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Computer Professionals

Certain highly-skilled computer professionals may be classified as exempt as either (1) highly compensated computer professionals (paid at least $27.63 per hour) or (2) salaried exempt computer professionals.

Unless an employee fits plainly within an exemption, wage and hour requirements will apply. Click here for more information on salaried exempt employees.

If you think your employer is violating this law, you can make a complaint or contact us to get help.

The law

OAR 839-020-0125(2)(h); 29 USC § 213(a)(17) (Highly compensated computer professionals)

OAR 839-020-0005(3); 29 CFR § 541.400 (Salaried exempt computer professionals)

OAR 839-020-0320 (Public employees working as salaried exempt computer professionals)

Highly Compensated Computer Professionals

Federal regulations provide an exemption for computer professionals who are paid no less than the equivalent of an hourly rate of $27.63 per hour and who primarily perform work in one or more of the following categories:

  • The application of systems analysis techniques and procedures including determination of hardware, software, or system functional specifications; or
  • The design, development, documentation, analysis, creation, testing or modification of computer systems or programs; or
  • The design, documentation, testing, creation or modification of computer programs related to machine operating systems.

Computer professionals who meet this duties test and who are paid not less than $27.63 per hour are also exempt from overtime under Oregon law.

Employers should note that the exemption does not extend to working conditions rules issued under Oregon’s minimum wage law. Exempt computer professionals will need to receive not less than $27.63 for all hours worked as well as the benefit of rest and meal periods.

Computer professionals who do not earn the equivalent of at least $27.63 per hour may instead qualify for exemption as a salaried professional employee.

Salary Exempt Computer Professionals

A highly skilled computer employee may qualify for exemption as a salaried exempt professional. Salaried exempt employees must meet a duties test and be paid a salary of not less than $684 per week under federal law, or the weekly equivalent of 2,080 times the applicable state minimum wage divided by 12 months, whichever is greater.

Although overtime and working conditions requirements do not apply to salaried exempt employees, employees are generally entitled to rest breaks for the expression of breast milk.

The duties test under Oregon regulations for the learned professional requires (among other things) that the employee hold a relevant advanced educational degree. That said, the duties of computer professionals often directly relate to management policies or to the implementation of business operations, and thus they may qualify as salaried executive or administrative employees, neither of which requires an advanced academic degree.

Note that public employers in Oregon enjoy an expanded duties test for salaried (computer) professionals. A public employee may also be considered exempt as a professional (without an advanced degree) where the employee’s primary duty requires:

  • Theoretical and practical application of highly-specialized knowledge in computer systems analysis, programming, and software engineering, such as computer systems analysts, computer programmers, software engineers, or other similarly skilled workers in the computer software field whose primary duty requires:
    • The application of systems analysis techniques and procedures, including consulting with users, to determine hardware, software, or system specifications;
    • The design, development, documentation, analysis, creation, testing, or modification of computer systems or programs, including prototypes, based on and related to user or system design specifications;
    • The design, documentation, testing, creation, or modification of computer programs related to machine operating systems; or
    • A combination of these duties, the performance of which requires the same level of skills;
  • The consistent exercise of discretion and judgment;
  • Work that is predominantly intellectual and varied in character (as opposed to routine mental, manual, mechanical, or physical work) and is of such character that the output produced or the result accomplished cannot be standardized in relation to a given period of time; and
  • Not more than 20 percent of the hours worked during a workweek are spent in activities which are not an essential part of the primary duty.

Disclaimer: This website is not intended as legal advice. Any responses to specific questions are based on the facts as we understand them and the law that was current when the responses were written. They are not intended to apply to any other situations. This communication is not an agency order. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney.​