Some church employees, particularly clergy and pastors, may qualify for the ministerial exemption. This would make them exempt from both minimum wage and overtime requirements.
Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule for when this exemption will apply, but the Supreme Court has supported the “functional approach” taken by a number of Courts of Appeal. The functional approach focuses not on the percentage of time spent on secular versus religious activities, but rather on the role played by the employee in conveying the church’s message and carrying out its mission. If the employee plays an important role as an instrument of the church’s religious message or leader of worship, they will likely qualify for the exemption.
Teachers in religious schools may or may not qualify for this exemption. However, if they do not it is still very possible that they are exempt white collar employees who are not subject to the minimum salary for exempt employees or the salary basis pay requirement. See the Professional Exemption for additional information on teachers.