Common Misconceptions about the FLSA
There is a lot of confusion surrounding the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) for both employers and employees. Most jobs are governed by the FLSA, but the rules and regulations can be complicated and many people find them unclear. To better understand FLSA, we have compiled a list of the most common misunderstandings involved with it:
- Many employers think that because their business is small, they are not covered by the FLSA. However, what many don’t realize is that the FLSA doesn’t depend on the number of employees – it covers all employees whose work may entail or relate to interstate commerce, which is any work that involves the movement of people or products across state lines. As a general rule, most businesses should assume they are governed by the FLSA.
- The fact that an employee is considered “salaried” or “exempt” doesn’t always mean that they are excluded from being paid overtime. Many people (such as secretaries or file clerks) are paid salaried wages, but are non-exempt. Even if someone is given a job title that implies that they are higher up in a company, such as a sales manager, that doesn’t mean that they are not eligible for overtime pay. The determining factor for eligibility for overtime pay is a “duties test” constructed by the U.S. Department of Labor.
- Some employers feel that if their non-exempt workers volunteer to work overtime without being paid that they are not responsible for it. However, even with consent, a wage claim or lawsuit is possible. Employees can’t waive their rights to receive wages for working overtime; they must be paid for every hour worked under the FLSA.
- There are some employers who feel that allowing their employees to keep their own time records is a good idea. The regulations of the FLSA require employers to keep detailed records of the hours worked by non-exempt workers. However, if an employer allows their workers to keep their own time, this could be problematic. For instance, if an employee decided to file a wage claim, there would be no actual proof that the employer could provide to dispute it.
- Aside from government jobs, compensatory time cannot be given to employees instead of overtime pay. Furthermore, FLSA overtime laws state that if a public employer does decide to give comp time to a nonexempt employee instead of cash, they must do so on a time and half basis.