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California Quality Assurance Engineer Overtime

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Quality Assurance (QA) Engineers are among the most misclassified types of software engineers, mainly because the job description of “software engineer” has changed drastically over the past few decades. Many tech engineers work long hours and weekends and are incorrectly paid a salary without premium overtime pay. If you are a QA engineer and you perform many automated and repetitive duties, regardless of your quality assurance engineer pay or title, you may qualify for overtime pay.


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California QA Engineer Overtime

The California Labor Code stipulates that certain computer software employees are exempt from the overtime requirements, and this can have a huge impact on their legal rights. Both California and federal law recognize that computer professional employees are exempt from minimum wage and overtime laws, as well as related laws requiring employers to provide rest periods.

As of January 2021 a computer software employee, which includes QA engineers,
may be exempt from overtime if they are paid at least $47.48 per hour or an annual salary of at least $98,907.70 (or $8, 242.32 per month). The minimum compensation required to satisfy the exemption is recomputed every year to account for changes in the cost of living.⁠

Does a Quality Engineer Qualify for Overtime?

If you are a QA engineer and you perform many automated and repetitive duties, regardless of your quality assurance engineer title or pay rate--either salary or hourly wages, you may qualify for overtime pay.

While some employers have “reclassified” IT and other high tech positions from salaried to hourly and started paying overtime pay, many have failed to pay the four years of back pay owed for previous overtime hours worked.

Tests to Determine Computer Professional Exemption

California imposes two tests that determine whether a computer professional employee, including a QA engineer, can be classified as an exempt employee. Those are the compensation test and the job duties test. (The computer professional employee exemption differs from the exemption that applies to scientists, engineers, and other professional employees.)

To satisfy the requirements of the computer professional exemption, the employee must be:
  • Primarily engaged in work that is intellectual or creative and that requires the exercise of discretion and independent judgment,⁠ and 
  • Highly skilled and proficient in the theoretical and practical application of highly specialized information to computer systems analysis, programming, or software engineering.⁠
Additionally, the employee’s primary job duties must consist of one or more of the following:
  • The application of systems analysis techniques and procedures, including consulting with users, to determine hardware, software, or system functional 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; or 
  • The documentation, testing, creation, or modification of computer programs related to the design of software or hardware for computer operating systems.⁠
Certain employees in the computer field cannot be classified as exempt, even if they meet the compensation test described above. They include engineers who are assisted by computer software but are not engaged in computer systems analysis, programming, or similar skills associated with the duties of exempt computer professionals. Engineers and other employees who cannot be classified as exempt computer professionals may satisfy the requirements of the professional employee exemption if they meet the salary and job duties tests that apply to professional employees.

Statute of Limitations

Under California law, many computer engineer employees are entitled to awards of overtime pay going back four years. Please keep in mind that Quality Assurance engineers, software engineers, or computer programmers are advised to contact a California labor law attorney immediately because the landscape in the industry is changing rapidly.  Also keep in mind that, if an employee disputes the classification, it is the employer’s burden to prove that the employee was properly classified as exempt.⁠

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California QA Engineer Overtime—the Pros and Cons of Filing a Claim
California QA Engineer Overtime—the Pros and Cons of Filing a Claim
February 24, 2009
Increasingly, California Quality Assurance (QA) engineers who are salaried and classified as exempt find themselves working around the clock and California QA overtime is just part of the job. QA engineers are typically well-educated and well-paid, yet many of them don't even know they are entitled to overtime compensation. And if they do know, many are afraid of retaliation, particularly in this economic climate. READ MORE

California QA Engineers Misclassified as Exempt Entitled to Overtime
California QA Engineers Misclassified as Exempt Entitled to Overtime
February 12, 2009
For many Quality Assurance (QA) engineers, long hours and low pay are standard. However, they may be entitled to California QA Engineer Overtime, mainly because an employer has misclassified employees as exempt from the wage and hour laws, and has improperly failed to pay overtime. And In some cases, QA engineers have been classified as independent contractors, meaning the company doesn't even have to pay them benefits. READ MORE


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