What is the minimum salary requirement under the California computer/software ­related professional exemption?

California Labor Code §515.5  provides that certain computer software employees are exempt from the requirement that an overtime rate of compensation be paid pursuant to Labor Code §510 if certain criteria are met. One of the required criteria is that the employee’s hourly rate of pay not be less than a certain threshold dollar amount.

The Office of Policy, Research and Legislation (OPRL) is responsible for adjusting this pay rate on October 1 of each year to be effective on January 1 of the following year by an amount equal to the percentage increase in the California Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.

Pursuant to California overtime laws, an employee may only be considered exempt from overtime pay under the Computer/Software ­Related Professional Exemption if the employee meets all of the requirements set forth by California Labor Code §515.5

An employee in the computer software field is considered to be exempt under the professional exemption, only if all of the following apply:

The employee is paid an hourly rate of at least $41.27 per hour (effective Jan. 1, 2014) or a salary of at least $7,165.12 per month ($85,981.40 annually).

The employee is primarily engaged in work that is intellectual or creative.

The employee is engaged in work that requires the exercise of discretion and independent judgment.

The employee is primarily engaged in duties that consist of one or more of the following:

  • Responsible for applying systems analysis techniques and procedures, including consulting with users, to determine hardware, software or system functional
  • Responsible for designing, developing, documenting, analyzing, creating, testing or modifying computer systems or programs, including prototypes, based on and related to user or system design specifications.
  • Responsible for documenting, testing, creating or modifying computer programs related to the design of software or hardware for computer operating

The employee is highly skilled and proficient in the theoretical and practical application of highly specialized information to computer systems analysis, programming and software engineering.

However, the above exemption does not apply to an employee if any of the following apply:

  1. The employee is a trainee or employee in an entry ­level position who is learning to become proficient in the theoretical and practical application of highly specialized information to computer systems analysis, programming and software
  2. The employee is in a computer­related occupation but has not attained the level of skill and expertise necessary to work independently and without close
  3. The employee is engaged in the operation of computers or in the manufacture, repair or maintenance of computer hardware and related
  4. The employee is an engineer, drafter, machinist or other professional whose work is highly dependent on or facilitated by the use of computers and computer software programs and who is skilled in computer­aided design software, including CAD/CAM, but who is not in a computer systems analysis or programming
  5. The employee is a writer engaged in writing material, including box labels, product descriptions, documentation, promotional material, setup and installation instructions, and other similar written information, either for print or for onscreen media or who writes or provides content material intended to be read by customers, subscribers or visitors to computer­related media such as the Internet or CD­
  6. The employee is engaged in any of the activities set forth in numbers 1 through 4 above for the purpose of creating imagery for effect used in the motion picture, television or theatrical

Source: California Department of Industrial Relations (http://www.dir.ca.gov/)