Some of the terms and phrases used in this Advisor have particular meanings
that are specific to the Regulations, Part 541. These terms are defined here to
help you better understand how the regulations apply to specific employment situations.
As you run this Advisor you will have the opportunity to return to the glossary to review
the definitions when the terms are used.
In general, the exercise of discretion and independent judgment involves the
comparison and the evaluation of possible courses of conduct, and acting or
making a decision after the various possibilities have been considered. The
exercise of discretion and independent judgment must be more than the use of
skill in applying well-established techniques, procedures or specific standards
described in manuals or other sources.
The exercise of discretion and independent judgment implies that one has authority
to make an independent choice, free from immediate direction or supervision. However,
discretion and independent judgment can be exercised even if the decision or
recommendation is reviewed at a higher level. Thus, the term "discretion and independent
judgment" does not require that the decisions being made have to be final or free from review.
The fact that one's decisions may be subject to review and that upon occasion the decisions are revised or reversed after review does not mean that one is not exercising discretion and independent judgment.
Discretion and independent judgment with respect
to matters of significance
The phrase "discretion and independent judgment" must be applied in the light of all the
facts involved in the particular situation in which the question arises. Factors to
consider when determining whether an employee exercises discretion and independent
judgment with respect to matters of significance include, but are not limited to:
- whether the employee has authority to formulate, affect, interpret, or
implement management policies or operating practices;
- whether the employee carries out major assignments in conducting the
operations of the business;
- whether the employee performs work that affects business operations to a
substantial degree, even if the employee's assignments are related to
operation of a particular segment of the business;
- whether the employee has authority to commit the employer in matters
that have significant financial impact;
- whether the employee has authority to waive or deviate from
established policies and procedures without prior approval;
- whether the employee has authority to negotiate and bind the company
on significant matters;
- whether the employee provides consultation or expert advice to management;
- whether the employee is involved in planning long- or short-term business objectives;
- whether the employee investigates and resolves matters of
significance on behalf of management; and
- whether the employee represents the company in handling complaints,
arbitrating disputes or resolving grievances.
An employee does not exercise discretion and independent judgment with respect to
matters of significance merely because the employer will experience financial losses
if the employee fails to perform the job properly.