The primary differences between job descriptions for professional or salaried positions and those of hourly positions are degree of responsibility, accountability and influence over the work of others. Hourly employees have more defined duties, and the work is usually more task-oriented than that of salaried employees.
Salaried positions require employees to exercise discretion and independent judgement in their work. The hourly worker's tasks tend to be of limited scope, such as taking blood pressure measurements, changing tires or maintaining files. The hourly employee is expected to work only 40 hours per week and is compensated at time and a half if required to exceed 40 hours. The salaried employee is expected to work as required to get the job done and can work beyond 40 hours without additional compensation as allowed by federal law.
Employers are required to classify positions as salaried or hourly according to criteria established in the Fair Labor Standards Act, which also establishes the minimum wage and hours in the work week. To be considered salaried and exempt from overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, a position's duties must be identified as administrative, executive or professional, based on the essential functions of the position.