Virginia Wage & Labor Laws

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 Virginia 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.

Virginia Wage and Overtime laws

While Virginia does have certain state labor laws that differ from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 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, however, federal law will cover issues involving overtime pay and minimum wage.  

Minimum Wage

The current Virginia minimum wage and the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

Overtime Pay 

Virginia state labor laws regarding the payment of overtime are largely consistent with the federal overtime laws. As most employers are 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 Virginia, the overtime pay rate amounts to $10.88 per hour (1.5 x $7.25).

Reporting Time / Show-Up Pay

Virginia wage 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. 

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.

Which Employees are Entitled to Overtime Pay

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

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 Virginia when making the determination of whether they are classified as exempt or non-exempt from the overtime pay laws.

Misclassification of Independent Contractors

Misclassification occurs when a business treats its workers as independent contractors (or subcontractors) rather than employees to avoid legal obligations such as social security taxes, worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance and overtime pay.

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. 

There are several factors to be considered in determining if a worker in Virginia is an employee or independent contractor (a/k/a 1099 employee) 

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

Payroll Deductions

In general, an employer cannot make any deductions from a worker’s paycheck without the worker’s consent to the deductions, unless the worker has previously signed a written agreement. 

As of January 1, 2020, no Virginia employer shall withhold any part of the wages or salaries of any employee except for payroll, wage or withholding taxes or in accordance with law, without the written and signed authorization of the employee. On each regular pay date, each employer other than an employer engaged in agricultural employment including agribusiness and forestry shall provide to each employee a written statement, by a paystub or online accounting, that shows the name and address of the employer, the number of hours worked during the pay period, the rate of pay, the gross wages earned by the employee during the pay period, and the amount and purpose of any deductions therefrom. An employer engaged in agricultural employment including agribusiness and forestry, upon request of its employee, shall furnish the employee a written statement of the gross wages earned by the employee during any pay period and the amount and purpose of any deductions therefrom.

Wage Payments

Virginia wage laws state that wages or salaries shall be paid (i) in lawful money of the United States, (ii) by check payable at face value upon demand in lawful money of the United States, (iii) by electronic automated fund transfer in lawful money of the United States into an account in the name of the employee at a financial institution designated by the employee, or (iv) by credit to a prepaid debit card or card account from which the employee is able to withdraw or transfer funds with full written disclosure by the employer of any applicable fees and affirmative consent thereto by the employee. However, an employer that elects not to pay wages or salaries in accordance with clause (i) or (ii) to an employee who is hired after January 1, 2010, shall be permitted to pay wages or salaries by credit to a prepaid debit card or card account in accordance with clause (iv), even though such employee has not affirmatively consented thereto, if the employee fails to designate an account at a financial institution in accordance with clause (iii) and the employer arranges for such card or card account to be issued through a network system through which the employee shall have the ability to make at least one free withdrawal or transfer per pay period, which withdrawal may be for any sum in such card or card account as the employee may elect, using such card or card account at financial institutions participating in such network system.

Virginia law requires that an employer pay an employee who leaves or is discharged from employment in full for all wages or salary earned by the employee no later than the next regular pay day following the date of separation.

Pay Stubs / Pay Statements

As of January 1, 2020, Virginia labor law requires all employers, other than an employer engaged in agricultural employment including agribusiness and forestry, to provide the number of hours worked during the pay period on the employee’s paystub.  The law applies to all employees, even those who are not paid on an hourly basis, such as salaried and piece work employees.

Meal and Rest Breaks

The Virginia Wage and Hour Laws do not require that employees be provided any meal or rest periods if they are at least 16 years old.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act does not require that an employer give employees any mandatory rest breaks or meal breaks.

Vacation or Holiday leave

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

Statute of limitations

Virginia’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 Virginia 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.

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 Virginia. Our attorneys, and the Virginia 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.