What Is an Unclassified Employee?

by Cheryl Withrow - Updated September 26, 2017

Government employment generally falls into two categories, classified and unclassified. These classifications closely resemble nonexempt and exempt job classifications established under the Fair Labor Standards Act. While the FLSA does not deal with labor relations per se, it does establish overtime pay, minimum wage, record-keeping regulations and youth employment rules for private employers as well as local, state and federal governments. In addition, the FLSA makes classification determinations relating to the applicability of FLSA requirements.

Unclassified or Exempt Employees

Under an opinion handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, unclassified employees serve at their employers' pleasure and have no merit or fitness requirements. Additionally, unclassified employees have no rights to continued employment, are generally paid more than classified employees and have no means to appeal a discharge.

Under FLSA, an exempt employee must qualify as exempt from overtime and minimum wage laws though criteria established for certain positions. FLSA classifies exempt employees as those who meet all tests applicable to their position, as executive, administrative, professional, computer personnel, outside sales or as highly compensated individuals.

Classified or Nonexempt Employees

The same appeals court dictated that a classified employee in the civil service has tenure and can be discharged only for cause or if his job is abolished. Furthermore, the court affirmed that the classified employee is originally chosen from eligibility lists and is required to demonstrate fitness for employment through a competitive selection process.

FLSA has established that all blue-collar workers, no matter how highly paid, are never exempt from laws governing overtime. Additionally, unless white-collar workers meet all criteria associated with a salaried position designation, they must be paid overtime as well.

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Minimum Wage Requirements

At the time of publication, all covered employees under FLSA who are not otherwise exempt must be paid a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. A person under age 20 may receive a wage of not less than $4.25 per hour during her first 90 consecutive calendar days of employment with a single employer. Employers are prohibited from dismissing an adult worker to replace him with a youth who is paid under the lower minimum wage standard.

Overtime Requirements

If an employer permits an employee to work overtime, he must pay the employee overtime, if she does not qualify for exempt status, for any hours she works in excess of 40 in a workweek. The overtime rate cannot be less than one and one-half time her regular rate of pay. For FLSA purposes, a workweek is defined as a regular recurring period of 168 hours or seven consecutive 24-hour periods.

About the Author

Cheryl Withrow is a writer in Michigan’s untamed Upper Peninsula. Following a teaching career she served alternately as editor of the "Washington County News" and the "Geneva County Reaper," and as associate editor of "Bay Life" magazine. Withrow holds a Bachelor of Science in business with a major in accountancy from Wright State University and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Ohio University.

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