The Risk of Wage and Hour Laws for Architects

Architects and architectural firms are becoming increasingly aware of wage and hour claims, which are among the most typical legal challenges they may confront in their careers. These allegations are dangerous because employers must guarantee that they are following federal, state and even municipal laws.

Employers must closely monitor payment systems because errors might result in massive financial losses. Risks can also relate to an individual who is in noncompliance or violation in some cases. Anyone in a position in the workplace that makes decisions and performs acts that affect employees may face legal consequences.

Exemptions to Overtime Pay for Architects

If the minimum weekly compensation is less than $455, all businesses are required to pay overtime. For 40 hours or more, time and a half is necessary. Understanding the labor rules enforced by the Department of Labor (DOL) is crucial in determining if you must pay your employees overtime.

There are exceptions to this norm for design firms. Five overtime pay exemptions are explained here, including professional, administrative, executive, outside sales and computer. This does not cover all overtime exemptions, but it does cover the ones that likely apply to your company.

Professional Exemption

Most architectural businesses are affected by the professional exemption since it determines whether design professionals and registered architects are exempt. To be eligible for this exemption, all the following conditions must be met:

  1. Exceed the minimum salary of $455 per week.
  2. Is the employee’s primary duty the performance of work that requires advanced knowledge?
  3. Is that advanced knowledge related to science or learning?
  4. Is the advanced knowledge acquired by prolonged course of intellectual instruction?

Administrative Exemption

The administration exemption applies to non-professional personnel of a company. To be eligible for this exemption, all the following conditions must be met:

  1. Exceed the minimum salary of $455 per week.
  2. Is the employee’s primary duty of performance non-manual work?
  3. Does the employee’s primary duty include the exercise of discretion and independent judgment?

Unique Exemptions

The executive exemption- Individuals with the titles of principal, partner or director are eligible for the executive exemption. The fundamental criteria for this exemption is that these individuals have a primary responsibility to manage the firm or a department within the firm.

The outside sales exemption- This exemption applies to an unusual employee categorization for architecture firm employees. The primary criteria of this exemption is that it be a salesperson whose primary responsibility is to make sales.

The computer exemption- This exemption applies to employees who program or otherwise build computer systems and software. To qualify for this exemption, the employee’s primary duties would entail techniques of systems analysis, user consultation, hardware selection and all manner of system-specific work.

Protect Your Business with Employment Practices Liability Insurance

Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) protects employers from employee claims that their legal rights as employees have been breached. The number of claims has been increasing, particularly for wage and hour violations.

Recognizing that this is a common claim that you will most likely confront in your profession is critical to getting protected and reducing this risk.

For this reason, EPLI coverage is key to protecting your business. To learn more about coverage from Lockton Affinity Architect + Engineer, visit us online at  or call at 888-425-7011.