What Are the Labor Laws for Salary Workers?

by Amanda L. Webster ; Updated September 26, 2017
A salaried worker is paid a set amount each pay period regardless of hours worked.

A salaried worker, as defined by the United States Department of Labor, is an employee who is paid a set salary amount regardless of the number of hours worked or the quality or quantity of work performed. Salaried workers are typically paid a determined amount each pay period. Pay frequency for the salaried worker may vary from once weekly to once monthly, among others. Labor laws for salaried workers determine how the worker should be paid and whether the worker is eligible for overtime pay.


Salaried employees must know the labor laws to ensure they are not exploited by employers, and employers must understand their rights and responsibilities in order to maintain compliance and avoid litigation. For example, it is essential to understand that a salaried worker must be paid his full salary for any week in which he works. The worker should be aware of such information to ensure he is able to recognize when he has been paid incorrectly, while the employer must know the law to ensure compliance.

Exempt Salaried Workers

Salaried workers are typically considered exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). As long as the exempt, salaried worker is available to work, the employer may not deduct from the worker’s pay for working less than the usual expected hours. For example, if the employee works less than 40 hours because there was no work available, she must still be paid the set salary amount without reduction. However, not all salaried employees are exempt. Employers should also understand that labor laws for salary workers vary by state. For example, in the state of California, all exempt employees are paid on a salary basis.

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Nonexempt Salaried Workers

As previously noted, some states require that exempt employees be paid on a salary basis. However, some salary workers are considered non-exempt. For example, as of May 2011, if the worker is paid a salary less than $23,600 per year, or $455 per week, that worker is considered nonexempt. This means that, although the worker is paid on a salary basis, she would be entitled to overtime pay and other FLSA protections afforded to the nonexempt worker.

Duty and Salary Tests

The duties test and the salary test are the two main methods used to determine whether a salaried worker is exempt or non-exempt as defined by state and federal labor laws. To determine whether a salaried worker should be considered exempt or non-exempt, it is essential to consider actual duties performed rather than considering only duties listed in the job description.

About the Author

Amanda L. Webster has a Master of Science in business management and a Master of Arts in English with a concentration in professional writing. She teaches a variety of business and communication courses within the Wisconsin Technical College System and works as a writer specializing in online business communications and social media marketing.

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