***Another guest post from Meghann Bedell, our Gen Y Compensation Geek***
Did you think that you finally made it when you got your first salaried position?
That’s how I felt too before I became “exempt,” too. I quickly realized that the change was minimal.
For those of you who don’t know, exempt and non-exempt are how the department of labor classifies jobs. Basically, some jobs are determined to be exempt from overtime, hence the “exempt” status.
Companies determine which jobs are exempt and which jobs are non-exempt by using an exemption “test.”
I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the line there became a stigma regarding being exempt. Some false belief that being exempt means that the position is more valuable to the organization than a non-exempt position.
It seems that everyone wants to be exempt because they think that something magical happens when they become exempt. I’m not sure what, but I’ve racked my brain and this is what I could come up with:
⁃ More Money: This has to be it! Everyone wants more money, right? Well that’s not always the case. See once you are exempt, you will not be paid overtime. Remember when you would work extra hours and see that awesome bump in pay? I’m sorry, but when you are classified as exempt you are responsible for working the extra hours and you will be paid for the first forty hours you worked……and that’s about it.
⁃ Hours Worked: Maybe people think that when you’re exempt you are only responsible for working 40 hours. This is not true either. Actually, you will be responsible for getting the job done, no matter how many hours it may take.
⁃ Recognition: Oh I know, that exempt position will provide them with the recognition that they deserve. I hope that happens, but in the majority of cases, being exempt just gets you more work. This extra work does not exactly equal more recognition.
Honestly, though, I think that this viewpoint goes way back to the days of the “blue collar” and “white collar” jobs.
At one point these classifications of blue vs white collar positions were accurate; the “blue” collar was the laborer, the “white” collar was management. But as we have progressed as a workforce and as jobs have evolved, these classifications have become less relevant. Now, when we determine whether a job is exempt or non-exempt, we are not determining the worth of the position to the organization, but rather the best way to compensate for specific job functions. I find it ironic that consultants are paid an hourly wage, but they are hardly viewed as “blue” collar or non-exempt. It’s all in the perception.
So the next time you think that it’s “about time” that your employer recognized your excellence and allowed you to enter the wonderful world of exemption – just please take a moment to review all of the current perks that come with your current position.
And be careful what you wish for.