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Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Glossary & FAQs

FLSA Glossary

Compensatory time (comp-time)

Provides the employee with time off instead of overtime pay. For each hour of overtime, an employee would earn this is paid at one and one-half hours for each hour over 40.

Exempt (salaried)

An employee who meets the requirements of the FLSA exemption, and does not earn overtime or comp time when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

A federal law that establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector and in federal, state, and local governments.

Flexible work arrangements

A way to help avoid overtime/comp time. For instance, an employee may work 7:00 am to 4:00 pm instead of 8:30 am to 5:30 pm, or a supervisor may allow an employee to come in late after staying late the night before. To avoid overtime/comp time, the time must be adjusted within the same workweek.

Hours worked

FLSA wages are determined by the number of hours an employee actually works. "Hours not worked" are not governed by the FLSA, even if they are considered "work time" or "paid time" by the employer. Thus, "off the clock" work counts, but holidays, sick days, or other days off do not count as FLSA hours worked.

Non-exempt (hourly)

An employee who earns overtime or comp time when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek.

Overtime

Pay for working more than 40 hours in a week, this is paid at one and one-half times the employee's regular rate of pay.

Primary duty

The principal, main, major or most important duty that the employee performs.

Workweek

At K-State, this is defined as Sunday at 12:01 am to Saturday at midnight.

Frequently Asked Questions about the FLSA 

General Overview
What FLSA exemptions exist?

Detailed information about each exemption can be found in the Department of Labor's Exemption under FLSA fact sheet. Upon the effective date of December 1, 2016, the salary threshold is changing to $913 per week and the highly compensated employee annual salary requirement will be $134,004.

Will my position change to university support staff if I change to non-exempt?

No. Unclassified professional staff and university support staff classifications have nothing to do with being exempt or non-exempt.

Is the FLSA exemption status designation final, or can I appeal it?

Because the exemption status is a legal designation driven by federal regulations, it is final.

How will I know what job titles will be affected by the changes?

HCS is responsible for classifying all positions. It is important to remember that an employee's exemption status is not based on their job title; rather, it is determined by the job duties assigned.

Appropriate notification regarding FLSA classification will be made to all employees who are affected.

Will employees who are currently non-exempt be affected by this change?

No. Employees currently in non-exempt positions will not be affected by the change to the salary thresholds. These employees should continue tracking and reporting time worked as usual.

Will HCS provide training to employees on how to track and report their time?
Qualifications for Exemption
How is the FLSA status of a position determined when it includes a mix of work duties?

The employee's primary duty must be a recognized exempt duty under the allowable exemption(s). Whether a duty is considered a "primary duty" is qualitative, not quantitative, and depends on several factors, including the importance of the activity in relation to other work. Generally, if 50% or more of work time is spent on duties recognized as exempt, the position will likely be determined exempt, though time spent on a particular activity is not the sole test for determining whether and exemption applies.

Can employees waive their right to be non-exempt?

No. The classification is a legal designation that cannot be waived. The designation of exempt (salaried) or non-exempt (hourly) does not impact the type or importance of an employee's work.

Can part-time employees be classified as exempt?

Yes. As long as the employee meets the salary basis, salary threshold (at least $913 per week), and job duties criteria, the employee can be considered exempt under the FLSA, regardless of full-time equivalent status (i.e., number of hours worked per week).

Can part-time employees' salaries be prorated in order to meet the salary threshold?

The new salary threshold criteria states that employees must earn at least $913 per week to be considered exempt. The minimum threshold stands as a baseline and must be met, regardless of full-time equivalent status (i.e., number of hours worked per week).

Academic Professionals
What type of positions are considered as academic administrative personnel exempt from the FLSA's minimum overtime requirements? Do those positions have a minimum threshold salary?

There is a specific exemption for academic administrative personnel, whose primary duties would include performing administrative functions directly in the field of education, such as curriculum development, assessment, and other aspects of the teaching program. Other examples are academic counselors and advisors, intervention specialists, and other with similar duties.

These personnel are exempt from the FLSA's minimum wage and overtime requirements if they are paid at least the entrance salary for instructors at K-State.

Are faculty and instructors exempt from the FLSA minimum salary requirements?

Yes. There is a teacher exemption that applies to an employee whose primary duty is teaching, tutoring, instructing, or lecturing in the activity of imparting knowledge and who is employed and engaged in this activity as a teacher employed at an educational institution.

Are post-doctoral fellows exempt from the FLSA minimum salary requirements?

No. Postdoctoral fellow positions typically meet the duties criteria for the "learned professional" exemption. They must also meet the salary threshold criteria to qualify for exemption.

Many academic coordinators have teaching responsibilities, such as 0-hour and 1-hour level orientation courses for their departments or the university. Will these positions be non-exempt?

The employee's primary duties (50% or more of the work duties) must be recognized as duties that qualify for exemption. If the primary duties do not qualify for an exemption, the position is classified as non-exempt.

There is an exemption for academic administrative personnel whose primary duties include performing administrative functions directly in the field of education, such as curriculum development, assessment, and other aspects of the teaching program. A separate threshold applies to these positions.

Managing Non-exempt Employees
Will the day-to-day job duties and expectations of my job change if I transition from exempt to non-exempt?

No. It is the intention that the actual job duties an employee performs will not change as a direct result of the updated regulations. Managers are expected to communicate with employees regarding work performed, and may discuss ways in which an employee's workload can be balanced more efficiently to comply with changes to the FLSA.

Will my supervisor expect me to complete the same amount of work in 40 hours that used to require me to work more than 40 hours?

There are a variety of options that managers can consider to improve processes and increase efficiencies to minimize overtime costs. Managers are encouraged to review resources for managers, or reach out to HCS for further assistance.

Will some managers or departments 'look the other way' and ask non-exempt employees to work overtime without reporting hours worked?

If employees are asked to work overtime and not record it, they should contact HCS. It is inappropriate, and illegal, for managers or departments to ask non-exempt employees to work without recording or compensating employees for any time worked. Managers and departments can require employees to not work over a certain number of hours; however, if hours are worked, they must be recorded and must be paid appropriately.

What about work done on a voluntary basis? Would "voluntary" work hours count toward the 40-hour workweek?

When an employer directs an employee to volunteer, that time is compensable. Time spent in work for public or charitable purposes at the employer's request, or under his direction or control, or while the employee is required to be on the premises, is working time. However, time spent voluntarily in such activities outside of the employee's normal working hours is not hours worked. Work that does not meet this description generally would not be considered compensable time.

Is a non-exempt employee eligible to receive "add pay" for work outside the normal work duties of their position, such as teaching an online class or taking on a special project? Would the "add pay" hours count toward the 40-hour workweek?

Yes. An employee whose primary duties are non-exempt may earn "add pay." All hours worked, even if those additional hours are in work that could qualify as exempt, are subject to the 40-hour workweek and must be both recorded and the employee must be compensated for those hours.

Overtime and Comp-time
When does overtime pay begin?

Overtime pay begins when a non-exempt employee works more than 40 hours in the workweek. For employees who are transitioned to hourly pay (e.g. non-exempt) as a result of the FLSA regulation change, eligibility for overtime pay will begin with the November 20, 2016 pay period.

When may overtime be accrued?

Per KSU PPM Chapter 4220.040, only with the permission of a supervisor can a non-exempt employee work overtime.

Some university jobs require 24/7 attention (e.g. care of animals) or working odd hours (e.g. events). How will the university meet these needs?

This depends upon many factors including funding, etc. Departments may choose to pay overtime to current employees, hire additional staff as required to complete the work, reorganize workloads, rearrange schedules, or some combination of these approaches.

Employees are encouraged to discuss alternative measures with their manager or department's time and leave official (typically, HCS liaison). 

Can a manager offer "comp-time" instead of overtime pay?

Yes. Departments may grant employees compensatory time off (i.e., "comp-time") in lieu of immediate overtime pay at a rate of one and one-half hours for each hour of overtime worked. See PPM Chapter 4220 for more information.

How much compensatory time can an employee accumulate? Is there a time frame in which the compensatory time must be used?

Non-exempt employees are eligible to earn comp-time in lieu of immediate overtime pay. 

According to K-State PPM Chapter 4220, Hours of Work, Overtime, Overtime Pay and Compensatory Time:

"The maximum accrual limit at K-State is 120 hours of compensatory time for overtime hours worked. Any employee who has accrued 120 hours of compensatory time will be compensated with overtime pay for any overtime hours worked in excess of the 120-hour maximum."

Travel Time
Where can I find overtime guidelines for travel time for non-exempt employees?

Recordkeeping procedures associated with travel time for non-exempt employees is included in PPM Chapter 4220, Hours of Work, Overtime, Overtime Pay and Compensatory Time.

Additional Resources
Where can I find additional information about the FLSA changes?
Is there FLSA training available to complete?

Yes. Material in the training available is geared toward supervisors. However, anyone is welcome to complete the training.

FLSA Basics Training