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elaws - employment laws assistance for workers and small businesses - FLSA Overtime Security Advisor

Glossary

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.

Primary duty
The term "primary duty" means the principal, main, major or most important duty that the employee performs. Determination of an employee's primary duty must be based on all the facts in a particular case, with the major emphasis on the character of the employee's job as a whole. Factors to consider when determining the primary duty of an employee include, but are not limited to:

  • the relative importance of the major or most important duty as compared with other types of duties;
  • the amount of time spent performing the major or most important duty;
  • the employee's relative freedom from direct supervision; and
  • the relationship between the employee's salary and the wages paid to other employees for performance of similar work.

The amount of time spent performing the specific duty can be a useful guide in determining whether such work is the primary duty of an employee. Thus, employees who spend more than 50 percent of their time performing a specific duty will generally satisfy the primary duty requirement. Time alone, however, is not the sole test, and nothing requires that exempt employees spend more than 50 percent of their time performing a specific duty. Employees who do not spend more than 50 percent of their time performing their major or most important duty may nonetheless meet the primary duty requirement if the other factors (listed above) support such a conclusion.

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