The Fair Labor Standards Act is a federal labor law that protects employees. It requires employers to pay time and one half for overtime, provides for a minimum wage and equal pay, and prohibits oppressive child labor, among other things.
The Act applies to "employees who are engaged in interstate commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, or who are employed by an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce." Practically speaking, the Act applies to employers who produce at least $500,000 a year in gross sales. Some employers and some employees are considered exempt from the Act.
Exempt occupations are generally those that are "white collar" occupations, or jobs that take special education to obtain and require the employee's discretion in the performance of his duties. The Act specifically excludes railroad employees, agricultural workers, truck drivers, and employees covered by other federal labor laws.
An exempt employee typically earns at least $23,600 per year, is paid by a salary, and performs "exempt" job duties. An exempt employee must meet all three tests to be considered exempt.
One of the primary protections of the Act is in the area of overtime pay. The Act requires that an employer pay an employee time and one half for time actually worked beyond a certain limit, typically 40 hours. The FLSA's typical work period is a work week of seven consecutive days. FLSA overtime time pay is calculated by determining the total hours the employee has actually worked in a "work" week. Some occupations have a different definition of a work week under the FLSA.
Any time an employee spends on work-related activities may comprise "work time." Basically, work time is that time an employee must spend on behalf of his employer and that cannot be used for an employee's own benefit or enjoyment. An employer who knows or should know an employee is performing work-related activities is responsible for paying the employee for that time.
Generally speaking, all time an employee spends at a worksite is "work time." Regular shift time, including breaks, is considered "work time." Work performed at home, voluntary work, and unapproved work that the employer knows about or should know about is considered "work time." As well, training time, time spent "off the clock" before and after work, and travel from between work sites is "work time."
Overtime Rate of Pay
An employee must pay an employee one and one half times the regular rate of pay for any overtime. The regular rate includes straight time compensation for hourly workers. For salaried employees, the calculation may be more complicated, as the regular rate of pay must include other types of compensation such as bonuses.
Minimum Wage and Equal Pay
The FLSA requires employers subject to the Act to pay a minimum wage as set by federal law. The Act requires employers to pay all employees equally for equal work. The Act is typically applied to women who suffer sex discrimination and are being paid less than men who perform the same jobs.
The FLSA is a federal law that protects the employee rights. This labor law only applies to nonexempt employees and to employers who meet certain definitions of the Act. Its main protections require employers to pay time and one half of an employee's regular rate of pay for time worked over a 40 hour work week, requires equal pay for equal work, and provides for a federal minimum wage.
Questions & Answers: Hours and Wages