We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the Difference Between Exempt and Non-Exempt Employees?

By Christina Edwards
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGEEK is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGEEK, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Generally, white-collar workers are classified as exempt employees, and blue-collar workers are classified as non-exempt employees. The biggest difference between these two types of employees is whether they can earn overtime wages. In most cases, when it comes to overtime, exempt employees are not able to collect overtime, or they are exempt and non-exempt employees are able to collect overtime wages. Also, exempt employees are usually paid a set salary, while non-exempt employees are paid an hourly wage.

In the United States, under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employees are categorized as exempt and non-exempt employees. Typically, exempt employees work as executives or managers. Non-exempt employees are typically laborers, and considered to be blue-collar workers. The FLSA also determines certain employment laws and employment rights, such as the lowest amount of money that employers can legally pay their employees. This is often referred to as minimum wage.

Exempt employees are often considered to be salaried employees. This means that their employers pay them a certain amount in wages per week, month, or year. This amount is the same whether they work 20 hours in one week, or if they work 60 hour in one week. For example, if an employee is paid a set wage of $500 US Dollars (USD) for each week and he only works 20 hours one week, he will still get paid the full $500(USD). If he works 60 hours, however, he is not entitled to any more than his regular $500(USD).

A non-exempt employee, on the other hand, is usually paid an hourly wage. If he only works 20 hours in one week, he only gets paid for those 20 hours and nothing more. If he happens to work more than a set number of hours for one week, usually 40, he is entitled to earn at least 1 1/2 times his normal pay for each of the extra hours. This is usually referred to as overtime.

There are advantages and disadvantages for both exempt and non-exempt employees. Exempt employees will be paid whether they work or not. On the other hand, if they must work long hours they will not get any extra compensation for this.

Non-exempt employees will only get paid if they work. If they are ill or otherwise unable to show up for work, they will usually have less money in their pay checks. On weeks that they must work long hours, however, since they will usually be paid overtime wages, they will typically get a much larger paycheck than usual.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon1002709 — On Jan 30, 2020

Yes it is legal and common to control costs and stick to budget.

By anon272240 — On May 30, 2012

I work for a company that is strict on timeclocks and chews employees out for being even a minute over. I am paid hourly. Basically, I'm sure they are trying to prevent overtime to hourly workers (because only the hourly workers use timeclocks?)

Is this legal or common for employers to do?

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.