Nonexempt & Exempt Employees - Essential Record-Keeping

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Exempt Nonexempt Record-Keeping


The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulates federal minimum wage, overtime, child labor, and record-keeping, including payroll record-keeping for nonexempt and exempt employees. Although the Act does not hold employers to any particular method of record-keeping, it does require that employers keep accurate and complete records for nonexempt and exempt workers. 


Criteria for Nonexempt Employees

For nonexempt employees, retain the following records for at least three years:

  • Full name, Social Security number, and address
  • Date of birth (if under 19 years of age), gender, and occupation
  • Time and day of the week that the workweek begins
  • Hours worked daily and weekly
  • Wage basis (such as hourly, flat amount per week, or piece rate basis)
  • Hourly pay rate
  • Daily or weekly straight-time earnings
  • Weekly overtime wages
  • Deductions from or additions to wages
  • Pay period wages
  • Payment dates and pay periods covered

If a nonexempt employee works a fixed schedule, such as 8 hours per day, 40 hours per week, you simply maintain records that show the set daily and weekly work hours and then note that the employee followed the schedule. If the employee deviates from the schedule, the records must show the exact hours worked during the exception period.


Criteria for Exempt Employees

Payroll records for exempt employees also should be retained for at least three years. Because exempt employees are not paid according to hours worked, it’s important that employers do not track work hours, as this could raise questions (by the Department of Labor) as to whether the employee is truly exempt. You can, however, track vacation, sick, and personal time. Although employers do not have to record hours worked and overtime information for exempt employees, the FLSA says to retain the following:

  • Full name, Social Security number, and address
  • Date of birth (if under 19 years of age), gender, and occupation
  • Time and day of the week that the workweek begins
  • Total earnings for the pay period
  • Payment dates and pay periods covered
  • Wage basis (e.g., $850 per week plus any fringe benefits)

These criteria are relevant to executive, administrative, professional, and outside sales employees who are exempt from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime pay requirements.


Certificates, Contracts, and Supplemental Records

Keep payroll certificates, collective bargaining agreements, and individual employment contracts for at least three years. Also, retain records used as the basis for determining work hours, such as time cards and work schedules, for a minimum of two years. Records must be kept at the worksite or a central record-keeping office.


Depending on your business, other FLSA payroll record-keeping laws may apply. For instance, the Act has special record-keeping rules for tipped employees and workers who are paid at the subminimum wage rate. Plus, some states have their own payroll record-keeping rules that require additional documentation for nonexempt employees or a longer retention period of certain payroll records.


Call us today if you want to learn more about the FLSA and to ensure correct application of the relevant state laws.



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