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Should you be getting overtime?

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3. The professional exemption: This is "a pretty narrow exception to cover people who have advanced degrees and some level of education," says Nierman.  Usually, the education goes beyond a bachelor's degree and includes other specialized study. Some of the jobs covered include doctors, lawyers, engineers and professors.

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4. The outside sales exemption: If you are a sales person who is "customarily and regularly" making sales away from your employer's office, you could be exempt from overtime pay.

5. The inside (retail) sales exemption: If you're in a retail or service business and make more than half of your salary from commissions, you could be exempt from overtime.

But this is "not applicable for people in the financial service industry, like brokers or loan officers," says Borgen.

6. The computer exemption: If your primary duty is the creation or architecture of software, you could also be exempt. But if you spend time on the computer testing or troubleshooting, rather than designing programs, then the computer exemption probably wouldn't apply.

This is also one of the rare instances where you can be paid hourly and still be exempt from overtime. But your hourly rate must be at least $27.63, says Nierman.

The biggest problem when it comes to overtime? Misclassification. Employees and employers believe the worker falls into one of the exception categories when they don't.

State laws
Brush up on state laws governing overtime pay. Laws can vary from state to state. While states may strengthen the federal standards that protect employees, they can't weaken them.

One example: Federal law says that to qualify for one of the exemption groups, your weekly salary has to be at least $455. But some states may require a higher pay rate in order to be exempt.

Congratulations! Now what?
OK, you suspect that you should be receiving overtime. Now how do you get it?

In a perfect world, you would go to your boss, remind him or her that you had been overlooked and soon be presented with a check for all the uncompensated overtime you've logged. The law says you're entitled to all the back pay you should have received from the moment you were misclassified. And employers are not allowed to punish, reprimand or fire you for requesting it.

Next: "Congratulations! Now what?"
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