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Paying Workers: Exempt Employees?

Updated: Apr 21, 2022

Homeschool programs often have a unique model that doesn't naturally fit into some of the labor laws that usually apply in an educational setting. This is one of them...

  • Do I HAVE to pay my teachers for their prep time?

  • Can I pay my staff for a portion of their hours if they're willing to donate/volunteer the rest?

  • Can't I just pay my teachers and staff a flat salary and then we don't need to track their hours?

Phew! Yes you do, no you can't, and no you can't. :) I'll tell you why.

First's important you understand the even larger question that precedes this one: Can I pay my staff as independent contractors? The answer to that one is usually no. I'll link to a separate blog post for that.

So! Assuming you have to pay staff as employees, it's important to understand that the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) "establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments (1)". It's these FLSA laws that determine the answers to your questions above. In summary, unless your staff makes more per week than the amount determined by FLSA laws (currently $684/week), then you cannot treat them as a salaried employee. This means you must pay them for all their hours worked and they cannot volunteer or donate hours even if you're a nonprofit. On one hand this is a huge burden to you and your homeschool program. However, on the other hand, this does force our programs to rise to the occasion and pay our hard working, well deserving staff what they deserve...which is actually a good thing!

There are some exceptions to these FLSA for teachers in a potential "school setting" (2) which varies based on state and on your program structure, and also there is some wiggle room for employees volunteering for your program if it's not required and it is not a regularly carried out activity. If you'd like to explore exemptions or get further clarity on this super complicated matter, you can schedule a consultation with me!

Keep up the good work,


(1) Wages and the Fair Labor Standards Act | U.S. Department of Labor (

(2) Fact Sheet for Higher Education Institutions Under FLSA whdfs17s.pdf (

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