Kansas Wage Law Explained

If you believe you’ve been deprived of the compensation to which you’re legally entitled, please contact the Lore Law Firm. Our overtime rights lawyers represent Kansas employees who have been subjected to workplace wage and hour violations and take cases on a contingent fee basis – no fee if no recovery of backpay.

Understanding Kansas Wage and Overtime Laws

While Kansas does have certain state labor laws that differ from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), including the hourly threshold for overtime pay, the state law applies only in instances where it provides greater rights or protections than federal law.  Whichever law (state or federal) is more favorable to the worker will apply. In most instances, federal law will cover issues involving overtime pay and minimum wage.  

Minimum Wage

The current Kansas and federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.  The minimum wage for a tipped employee is $2.13 per hour. The minimum wage for new hires under the age of 20 is $4.25 per hour for the first 90 days, under Kansas’s training wage law.  Student workers and interns can be paid 85 percent of the minimum wage rate.

Overtime Pay 

Kansas state labor laws on overtime pay do not require overtime pay until an employee has worked 46 hours within a week.  While this may apply in limited circumstances where an employer is not covered by the FLSA, generally the FLSA will apply and requires employers to pay time and a-half for all hours worked over 40 per workweek, unless an employee is properly classified as exempt.

For minimum wage workers in Kansas, the overtime pay rate amounts to $10.88 per hour (1.5 x $7.25).

An employer doesn’t violate overtime laws by requiring employees to work overtime, (ie “mandatory overtime”), as long as they are properly compensated at the premium rate required by law.

Kansas labor laws do not require reporting pay or show-up pay when workers show up for a scheduled shift but are sent home due to no available work. 

Which Employees are Entitled to Overtime Pay

Most workers in Kansas are entitled to overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours per week. In certain circumstances, however, there are exceptions. 

Employees engaged in executive, administrative, or professional capacities (and paid at least $455 per week on a salary basis) are exempt from the overtime requirement. Note that new minimum salary requirements for these overtime exemptions take effect in January 2020 and increase the minimum salary threshold to $684 per week (or $35,568 annually). This change in federal law will also apply to most workers in Kansas when making the determination of whether they are classified as exempt or non-exempt from the overtime pay laws.

Misclassification of Independent Contractors

While there are situations in which workers are legitimately running their own business and properly treated as independent contractors who are not entitled to receive overtime, employers are not allowed to mischaracterize employee roles to avoid paying overtime compensation

Merely labeling a worker as an independent contractor, or even entering into a written agreement, is not enough to avoid the labor laws on overtime pay. 

While there is no single definition of “independent contractor” under Kansas labor laws. There are several factors to be considered in determining if a worker in Kansas is an employee or independent contractor (a/k/a 1099 employee) 

If properly classified as an independent contractor under Kansas law, workers are typically eligible for only the specific compensation bargained for in a contract. 

Tipped Workers

The minimum wage for a tipped employee under Kansas state law is $2.13 per hour.

Payroll Deductions

Employers may not withhold any portion of an employee’s wages unless required to by Kansas or federal law or if the employer has written authorization to make deductions from an employee’s paycheck.

The following items can be deducted from wages:

  • Taxes
  • Garnishments
  • Deductions for any lawful purpose accruing to the benefit of the employee if the employee has given written authorization for the deduction (for example, insurance, 401K, pensions, bonds and savings programs).

The following items cannot be deducted from wages:

  • Cash shortages in common money till.
  • Losses due to breakage, damage, acceptance of bad checks, and default of customer credit except in certain limited cases.
  • Lost orstolen property unless certain conditions are met.
  • Personal protective equipment, in most cases.

Wage Payments

Every employer shall pay all wages due to the employees of the employer at least once during each calendar month, on regular paydays designated in advance by the employer.

The employer may designate the method by which employees receive wages, provided all wages shall be paid by one or more of the following methods:

  • In lawful money of the United States;
  • by check or draft which is negotiable in the community wherein the place of employment is located;
  • by electronic fund transfer or deposit to an automated clearinghouse member financial institution account designated by the employee; or
  • by payroll card.

Breaks or Meal Periods

Kansas labor law does not require employers to give breaks or meal periods to adults. Employees would only be entitled to breaks if it is the employer’s policy to provide them.

Vacation or Holiday Leave

Kansas doesn’t require employers to provide workers with paid or unpaid vacation leave.

Many employers choose to provide vacation leave as part of a benefits packages to attract employees, however. In these situations, employers may set the policies, terms and conditions as to how and when such a benefit is used – including “use it or lose it” policies that state that terminating employees forfeit accrued but unused vacation time.

Statute of Limitations

Kansas’s deadline for filing an overtime claim adheres to the FLSA, which requires those seeking to recover unpaid back overtime wages file a lawsuit within two years from the date of the employer’s wage violation. So, a lawsuit filed today would be able to seek recovery of back overtime for only the prior 2 (sometimes 3) years.

As an example, suppose you believe that your employer has failed to pay you proper overtime wages since January 1, 2016. Waiting until June 1, 2019, to file your lawsuit means you are only allowed to seek unpaid wages from June 1, 2017, to June 1, 2019.

The statute of limitations may be extended to three years if an employer’s violation of the FLSA was willful. An FLSA violation is deemed willful if the employer knew that its conduct was prohibited by the FLSA or showed reckless disregard.

Penalties for Violations

Under federal law, employers who fail to pay proper overtime wages may be liable for up to double the amount of unpaid back wages plus costs and attorney’s fees incurred by employees. These cases can be brought by overtime pay lawyers on a class or collective basis on behalf of all workers who were subjected to the same illegal pay practices.

Layoffs, Plant Closings and WARN Notices

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) offers protection to Kansas workers, their families and communities by requiring employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs. This notice must be provided to either affected workers or their representatives (e.g., a labor union).

An employer who violates the WARN Act by failing to provide appropriate notice is liable to each employee for an amount up to 60 days back pay and benefits for the period of violation.

Lore Law Firm is On Your Side 

At the Lore Law Firm, we represent salaried, hourly, and day-rate workers in an array of employment litigation matters, including unpaid overtime compensation claims in Kansas. Our attorneys, and the Kansas overtime law attorneys we associate with, are passionate about protecting the rights of workers and have helped recover millions of dollars in unpaid overtime wages for our clients.

Contact us for a free and confidential review of your situation.