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Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, teachers are considered exempt employees, meaning they are not eligible for overtime pay. 

Teachers are exempt from FLSA if their primary duty is “teaching, tutoring, instructing or lecturing in the activity of imparting knowledge, and if they are employed and engaged in this activity as a teacher in an educational establishment.” 

To maintain this exempt status, teachers must be paid a weekly rate of at least $684, or $35,308 annually, on a salary basis. The salary rate only applies to weeks when an employee worked, meaning summer vacation does not impact teachers’ exempt status.

Beyond K-12 teachers, the exemption includes but is not limited to teachers of skilled and semi-skilled trades and occupations, driving instructors, aircraft flight instructors and vocal or instrument music teachers.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


US Department of Labor Fact Sheet #17D: Exemption for Professional Employees Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Wisconsin Association of School Boards Wisconsin School News on Overtime Issues Under the Fair Labor Standards Act

US Department of Labor Fact Sheet #17G: Salary Basis Requirement and the Part 541 Exemptions Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

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Erin Gretzinger / Wisconsin WatchReporting Intern

Erin Gretzinger joined Wisconsin Watch as a reporting intern in May 2022. She is a journalism and French major at UW-Madison and will graduate in spring 2023. Erin previously worked for the Wisconsin State Journal as a reporting intern and served as the 2021-22 editor-in-chief at The Badger Herald. She is a recipient of the Jon Wolman Scholarship, the Sigrid Schultz Scholarship and the Joseph Sicherman Award Fund for her academic and reporting work.