My IT department is now non-exempt (hourly)

I work for an IT department of over 200 people. On Wednesday it was announced that all non-management employees in the IT department are going to be reclassified as non-exempt from California labor laws. Previosuly most all of them were exempt (salaried) except for some operations and helpdesk staff. That means starting this Sunday at 12:01am all admins, engineers, analysists, sysops, etc. work 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week and any more than that they get overtime. We also have on-call pay (not required by law, we’re just cool like that) for people that carry a pager, and any off-hours, non-scheduled work (like answering a page or emergency) is automatically time and a half. For the record no positions were eliminated and everyone continues with their current base rate of pay as a result of the change.

I don’t get to participate as management but my team does. It’s a pretty big deal especially considering we’ve got some big projects nearing go-lives. Some folks are excited that they will be reimbursed for their long hours. Some are worried that being an “hourly” IT worker carries a stigma. Personally I think it’s a gutsy thing to do and will make the whole department take a good look at how we work. You want an off-hours downtime? That’s time and a half my friend. You need this change right now in the middle of the night? Once again time and a half. Your on-call person can’t actually fix problems but just farms it out to the real workers? I guess you’re not on-call anymore.

Gonna be an interesting time.

Good luck sir. From my experience I’ve only seen that go one way. Separation between the hourly environment and salaried environment to a point that job turnover goes up and quality of hourly work goes down. Operations are seldom willing to continue to burn the wick at both ends of IT’s time when they have to pay for it.

In my particular experience it led to outsourcing IT. I sincerely hope that the agreement you have will prevent that from being the end result Rorshach. Good luck bud.

This is happening all over the industry. Happened back when I was at Oracle over a year ago. It’s good in theory but in practice it has some problems. There’s the potential to get into a state where workers can only work approved overtime and the company doesn’t want to approve the overtime but the work expected can’t be done in the time alloted.

Been that way at my job for years.

And then the work doesn’t get done! Whats the problem?

They assume you suck, make you redundant, and ultimately outsource IT.

I’m not in IT myself, but sitting around with IT friends chatting about work, they have mentioned just this type of situation several times. They have commented that when this starts happening, many of those cases go to contractors. In several, the contracts when to contract houses that were overseas.

Almost all of us IT people at my company are hourly, with the exception of people who are “bosses” and have people reporting to them. It works pretty well for us…except times like right now when the budget can’t support OT…then we do creative scheduling and offer comp time for evening hours worked.

It’s not a problem, they just have to fire a bunch of IT staff and put unreasonable demands on the rest to fix the situation. The idea that the demands might be unreasonable will never pass through their minds.

I see this exact situation play out in the jobs of many people I know (including my wife’s current job) and it’s all the proof that I need that the free market does not regulate labor with anything approaching efficiency.

Works this way in my company. Being The Man though, I think it seems pretty reasonable.

My employees are only expected to work 40 hours a week. If they work anymore than that, then they get overtime. They seem to like that and it forces me to keep their hours to 40 hours or I pay for the additional time which eats into my overhead.

My company just went through the same thing (though we do finance work). There is some law out there that states you cannot be on a salary unless you have 2 people working for you. Was great for all the hourly folk since we increased their pay to equal what they made when we had a 48 hour work week.

Is that a federal or state law? Sources?

I would guess that it’s a state law. In my last job I didn’t have anyone working under me, or reporting to me, yet I was salary. This was in MA.

Think federal, HR told me it came from the Labor Dept. and I left it at that. Wasn’t going to waste my time to play law-boy to overrule the changes.

Um, I think you’ve got that the wrong way around - if you manage multiple people, you cannot be hourly under federal law. But /not/ managing people does /not/ mean you can’t be paid salary.

Seriously. Otherwise all the engineers at my company would be hourly, and it would either bankrupt them from all the OT they work over 40 hours a week or all work would grind to a halt.

I asked my sister about this, since she’s an HR monkey for the state of Nebraksa and what she told me is that only people who can be salaried are supervisors/managers and professionals. So basically if you don’t supervise someone, the only way you get salaried is if you do “professional” work. This vague categorization covers lawyers, doctors, architects, engineers and all the other white collar office jobs you think it would. Companies were calling IT techs and programmers and QA testers professionals traditionally butl recently the law got clarified so that programmers were explicitly professionals. Since the IT techs didn’t get listed in that revision now a lot of companies are thinking they might be on shaky ground trying to salary them so the shift to hourly is happening a lot of companies now.

This happened at Sony before I left.

All the tech specialists got converted to hourly, I left 2 months into that for my new job, 4 months after I left, everyone was laid off and the outsourcing began.


Even so, at my first job, I got converted to hourly even though I had “engineer” in my title, and a college degree in engineering. HR tried to claim I don’t do design work. I offered to show them my latest design document. They said it was actually my supervisor’s fault, not theirs, and if I wanted to start being paid like an engineer I should start working like one. Then I started to cry.

Oh, right, and the conversion to hourly was retroactive 4 months. So they took away the sick time I’d used and left me with a -3 sick hours (“but it’s ok,” they told me, “we’ll round up to 0”).

Jebus, that’s some “quit on the spot” level bullshit right there.