November 18, 2008
US Department of Labor Issues Opinion Letter on Substitute Teachers and the Professional Exemption
Filed under: News
Vision Payroll

The US Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued Administrator signed Opinion Letter FLSA2008-7. Although Opinion Letters only apply to the exact set of facts and circumstances presented in each case, they are a valuable aid in understanding current interpretations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This Opinion Letter states that a substitute teacher may qualify for the Professional exemption of the FLSA if the substitute teacher’s primary duty is teaching. Generally, the Professional exemption requires a “knowledge of an advanced type in a field of science or learning customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction.” Under the state law at issue, substitute teachers do not need a college degree or teaching certificate if they have a state-issued substitute teaching permit. The DOL concluded that it was not the degree requirements that qualified teachers as learned professionals; indeed the requirements vary widely by state and even school, with no standard minimum qualifications. Since discretion and judgment is required for teaching, substitute teachers whose primary duty is teaching qualify for the exemption. Conversely, substitute teachers whose primary duty is not related to teaching do not qualify for the exemption. State laws may provide rules that are more beneficial to the employee and must be followed. Contact Vision Payroll if you have questions about this Opinion Letter.


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