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Your Legal Corner - Client Alert Blog

California Overtime Laws Pertaining To California Computer Programmers and Software Engineers

Written By: Melissa C. Marsh, Esq., California Attorney, October 2008 Add to Favorites
Update: For 2009, to be exempt from California’s overtime provisions under the computer professional exemption codified in Labor Code §515.5, the computer professional must earn at least $79,050 annually ($6,587.50 monthly and $37.94 hourly) and still meet the duties requirements set forth below.

Although many computer professionals and programmers are treated as salaried employees exempt from overtime, the fact is that not all computer professionals are exempt from overtime. Pursuant to California law, only certain highly compensated computer systems analysts, programmers and software engineers who satisfy both the minimum salary test ($36 per hour for 2008; $37.94 per hour for 2009) and the following criteria are exempt from overtime.

1. Job Duties. The computer professional must spend more than 50% of his or her time in work that is “intellectual or creative” and requires the exercise of discretion and independent judgment, and the computer professional’s primary duties must consist of one or more of the following:

  • systems analysis, including consulting with users, to determine hardware, software or system functional specifications; OR
  • design, development, documentation, analysis, creation, or modification of computer systems or programs, including prototypes, based on and related to, user or system design specifications; OR
  • documenting, testing, creating, or modifying the design of a computer software or hardware.
2. Skill Level/Compensation. The computer professional must be highly skilled and proficient in the theoretical and practical application of highly specialized information to computer systems analysis, programming, or software engineering. Additionally, the employee must earn at least $37.94 per hour or a salary of $79,050 per year (up from $75,000 in 2008). This compensation level will be adjusted each year based on the increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.

3. Specific Exceptions. Employees in the following computer related jobs are NOT exempt from overtime under this Computer Professional Exemption:

  • Trainees or entry-level employees;
  • Employees in computer-related occupations lacking the expertise to work independently;
  • Employees engaged in the operation of computers or in the manufacture, repair, or maintenance of computer hardware and related equipment;
  • Engineers, drafters, machinists, or other professional employees whose work is highly dependent upon or facilitated by the use of computers and computer software programs and who are skilled in computer-aided design software, including CAD/CAM;
  • Writers engaged in writing content material either for print or for onscreen media; and
  • Computer professionals engaged in creating imagery for effects used in motion picture, television, or theatrical industries.

In sum, the computer professional overtime exemption codified in California Labor Code §515.5 may provide some overtime relief for employers of highly skilled and highly compensated computer professionals, but it is not a broad based exemption for high tech employees. California employers should also be aware that computer professionals who are properly classified as exempt from overtime (through job duties and hourly wage) are still entitled to the required meal and rest breaks.

Tags: california, california overtime laws, programmer, software engineer
Posted In: Employment Law News 

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Disclaimer: The information presented on this web site was prepared by Melissa C. Marsh for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The information provided in my articles and alerts should not be relied upon, or used as a substitute for professional legal advice from an attorney you retain to advise or represent you. Your use of this Internet site does not create an attorney- client relationship. Transmission of this article is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. All uses of the contents of this site, other than personal uses, are prohibited. You may print or email a copy of any information posted on this web site for your own personal, non-commercial, use, but you may not publish any of the articles or posts on this web site without the Express Written Permission of Melissa C. Marsh.

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Located in Los Angeles, California, the Law Office of Melissa C. Marsh handles business law and corporation law matters as a lawyer for clients throughout Los Angeles including Burbank, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Valley Village, North Hollywood, Woodland Hills, Hollywood, West LA as well as Riverside County, San Fernando, Ventura County, and Santa Clarita. Attorney Melissa C. Marsh has considerable experience handling business matters both nationally and internationally. We routinely assist our clients with incorporation, forming a California corporation, forming a California llc, partnership, annual minutes, shareholder meetings, director meetings, getting a taxpayer ID number (EIN), buying a business, selling a business, commercial lease review, employee disputes, independent contractors, construction, and personal matters such as preparing a will, living trust, power of attorney, health care directive, and more.