Overview of Law
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards affecting full-time and part-time workers in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments.
The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) administers and enforces the FLSA with respect to private employment, State and local government employment, and Federal employees of the Library of Congress, U.S. Postal Service, Postal Rate Commission, and the Tennessee Valley Authority. The FLSA is enforced by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management for employees of other Executive Branch agencies, and by the U.S. Congress for covered employees of the Legislative Branch.
Special rules apply to State and local government employment involving fire protection and law enforcement activities, volunteer services, and compensatory time off instead of cash overtime pay.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) applies to:
- Employees of any enterprise engaged in interstate commerce (this is defined very broadly);
- Employees of any enterprise engaged in the production of goods for interstate commerce; or
- Employees of an enterprise with annual revenues exceeding $500,000.
Unless exempt from the Act, the FLSA requires that employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage and an overtime premium of 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in one workweek. Employers must pay higher state or municipal minimum wages if they exist. An employee's "regular rate of pay" may include more than their base hourly wage. See the FLSA overtime page or search "regular rate of pay" for additional information.
Employers are required to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for their nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk. Employers must provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk. Some state laws that provide greater protections to employees. Employers are not required to pay nursing mothers for breaks taken for the purpose of expressing milk, but an employee’s normal break time can be used for this purpose in the same way that other employees are compensated for break time. Employers with fewer than 50 employees may be exempted from this provision if they can show that providing such accommodations would create an undue hardship. A successful claim of undue hardship requires a showing of significant difficulty or expense; employers should not rely on this as a defense to not providing accommodation unless they have consulted with an attorney.
The FLSA also regulates the employment of youth.
Jobs Youth Can Do:
- 13 or younger: baby-sit, deliver newspapers, or work as an actor or performer
- Ages 14-15: certain permitted in such establishments as office work, grocery store, retail store, restaurant, movie theater, and amusement parks
- Age 16-17: Any job not declared hazardous
- Age 18: No restrictions
Youth ages 14 and 15 may only work the following hours/durations:
- Between 7 am and until 7 pm (hours are extended to 9 pm June 1–Labor Day);
- Up to 3 hours, including Fridays on a school day; up to 18 hours in a school week;
- Up to 8 hours on a non-school day; up to 40 hours in a non-school week
Different rules apply to youth working in agriculture.
Many states have stricter child labor laws than the FLSA - the strictest standard will always apply.
Basic Wage Standards
Covered, nonexempt workers are entitled to a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009. Special provisions apply to workers in American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Nonexempt workers must be paid overtime pay at a rate of not less than one and one-half times their regular rates of pay after 40 hours of work in a workweek.
Wages required by the FLSA are due on the regular payday for the pay period covered. Deductions made from wages for such items as cash or merchandise shortages, employer-required uniforms, and tools of the trade, are not legal to the extent that they reduce the wages of employees below the minimum rate required by the FLSA or reduce the amount of overtime pay due under the FLSA.
The FLSA contains some exemptions from these basic standards. Some apply to specific types of businesses; others apply to specific kinds of work.
While the FLSA does set basic minimum wage and overtime pay standards and regulates the employment of minors, there are a number of employment practices which the FLSA does not regulate.
For example, the FLSA does not require:
- vacation, holiday, severance, or sick pay;
- meal or rest periods, holidays off, or vacations;
- premium pay for weekend or holiday work;
- pay raises or fringe benefits; or
- a discharge notice, reason for discharge, or immediate payment of final wages to terminated employees.
The FLSA does not provide wage payment or collection procedures for an employee’s usual or promised wages or commissions in excess of those required by the FLSA. However, some States do have laws under which such claims (sometimes including fringe benefits) may be filed.
Also, the FLSA does not limit the number of hours in a day or days in a week an employee may be required or scheduled to work, including overtime hours, if the employee is at least 16 years old.
The above matters are for agreement between the employer and the employees or their authorized representatives.
Here is a comprehensive list of the other labor law standards set by the FLSA: