Employee Categories and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)


The HR Design Strategic Plan recommends aligning the UW-Madison employee and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) categories. After July 1, 2015:

  • The “Academic Staff” employee category will include FLSA-exempt (“salaried”) positions.
  • The “University Staff” employee category (currently Classified Staff) will include non-exempt (“hourly”) positions.


  • Eliminates artificial distinctions between employees.
  • Provides a clearer, more consistent way to categorize jobs.
  • Puts jobs that require similar levels of judgment and responsibility into the same employee category.

To align these categories, the UW-Madison is conducting an FLSA review of all permanent “Classified Exempt” staff, impacting approximately 1,500 personnel. Classified exempt positions determined to be exempt after the review will be offered the option of changing their employee category to Academic Staff.


Emp Categories Slide

Fact sheets:


Employee Choice: A Side By Side Comparison. This is a chart for classified exempt employees that illustrates the differences in benefits between the classified exempt and academic staff employee categories.                                                                            FLSA Review Fact Sheet. This explains the review process for classified exempt employees.
CS to AS Movement_HRDesign_Page_1 FLSA-Review-Fact-Sheet-Short-82914_Page_1


FLSA intro screengrab

Info Sessions Breakouts FLSA



What is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)?
The Fair Labor Standards Act is the federal law that sets up protections for employees. These protections include rules guiding the workweek, minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment.

What does it mean for a position to be FLSA exempt (often referred to simply as “exempt”)?
An FLSA exempt position is not subject to the overtime protections outlined in the FLSA.

What does it mean for a position to be FLSA non-exempt (often referred to simply as “non-exempt”)?
An FLSA non-exempt position is subject to the protections outlined in the FLSA that ensure one receives overtime pay.

Help! I do not know whether my position is FLSA exempt or non-exempt. How do I find out?
Use the UW-Madison FLSA Status Check tool to find out whether your position is FLSA exempt or non-exempt. You will need your Employee ID number found on your earning statement (typically an 8-digit number beginning with zeroes). For more help, contact your divisional HR representative.

How many positions on campus are currently Classified exempt?
Around 1,500 of more than 20,000 employees on the UW-Madison campus are in permanent, classified exempt positions.

Will all positions that are currently categorized as classified exempt have the option to move to Academic Staff?
All permanent, classified exempt positions are currently under review to make sure they are indeed FLSA exempt. Most of these positions will likely be confirmed FLSA exempt. Employees in those positions will have the choice to move to Academic Staff.

I am non-exempt. How does this affect me?
As a Classified non-exempt employee, your employment category will be “University Staff” instead of “Classified Staff” starting on July 1, 2015. The employee category choice will not affect you.

I am currently a Classified exempt project employee. How will HR Design affect my position and benefits?
Classified exempt project employees will not be offered the choice to move to Academic Staff. Classified Staff, including project Classified Staff, will remain Wisconsin state employees after the conversion to University Staff in 2015. This means that WRS access and benefits will remain largely unchanged.

My position is Classified exempt. How would I choose whether to move to Academic Staff? What would I gain and what would I lose in each scenario?
The benefits comparison chart above describes the pros and cons of both options. There are no special incentives to encourage movement to Academic Staff. It is simply an option that permanent, Classi-fied exempt employees have.

I have a permanent, Classified exempt position. Will moving to Academic Staff cause my appointment to no longer be permanent, since most Academic staff have renewable appointments?
Employees who choose to become Academic Staff will convert from permanent to fixed-term renewable positions. Departments may be able to provide additional job security using “rolling horizons.” Details will vary by appointment. Employees can learn about their personal options during individual discussions with HR representatives.