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Employees qualify for the administrative exemption if they are "primarily engaged" in the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers, and these "primary duties" include the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance. With regard to what constitutes an employee's "primary duty," the Department of Labor States:
“'Primary duty' means the principal, main, major or most important duty that the employee performs. Determination of an employee’s primary duty must be based on all the facts in a particular case, with the major emphasis on the character of the employee’s job as a whole."
Learning the new system would seem to relate directly to the employee's primary duties because they presumably need to know how to use the new system in order to carry out their administrative assistant functions. Even if this were not the case, though, learning the system would not be such a dominant requirement of the employee's time such that the administrative duties they were engaging in were no longer their "primary" duties. What this means is that in virtually any case, an employer would not need to pay an exempt employee anythign more than their regular salary to learn a new billing and record system. The learning process is part of the "primary duties" that qualify the employee for exemption, but even if it weren't, that doesn't change the fact that the employee's "primary duties" are still duties which qualify the employee for the exemption. And when an employee is exempt, the employer does not need to pay anything more than the base salary.
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