The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) governs how we define employees as exempt (not covered by overtime and meal break laws) and nonexempt (covered by overtime and meal break laws, among other things). The FLSA mandates that certain employees get time-and-a-half overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours a week, and others do not. For a helpful primer on this, see the Department of Labor Fair Labor Standards Act Advisor website.
Expanding the types of employee classified as "exempt" is a new bill introduced in Congress by Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), titled the Computer Professionals Update Act. Not yet law, the CPU (yes, CPU - I guess that's computer nerd humor) focuses on IT workers including network engineers, database and security specialists. Specifically, if the CPU is passed, the FLSA will be expanded to give exempt status to "any employee working in a computer or information technology occupation (including, but not limited to, work related to computers, information systems, components, networks, software, hardware, databases, security, internet, intranet, or websites) as an analyst, programmer, engineer, designer, developer, administrator, or other similarly skilled worker," working in or on "the application of systems, network or database analysis techniques and procedures, including consulting with users, to determine or modify hardware, software, network, database, or system functional specifications."
If you have employees that fall into this category, are paid through salary or make at least $27.63 an hour, they will be covered by the new law (if, of course, it passes through Congress). That's great news if you have to call your tech support out to fix a server at 2 a.m.!
As always, this is intended as general information about employment law for clients and the community, and is not legal advice. Similarly, nothing in here is intended as an advertisement and no attorney client relationship is intended between the author and the reader. Every situation is different, and for tailored legal advice, you should consult an attorney. I offer free consultations to employers in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties, and if I can't help you, I am always happy to give you a referral to someone who can.