What is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)?
Wage and hour laws have been put in place on a federal and state level to protect the rights of employees in the workforce. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the federal standard which sets the minimum wage requirement for most workers (with exceptions) at the current $7.25/ hour, being compensated time and a half for overtime worked over a 40 hour workweek (for those who are eligible), and the regulation of child labor.
The FLSA & Record Keeping Requirements
The FLSA sets record keeping requirements in both the private sector and all levels of government. The FLSA sets minimum standards which cannot be waived or reduced, although they can be exceeded by State overtime laws. Some states have higher minimum wage requirements, while others have lower standards. When state laws differ from the FLSA, the employer must go with the one which is most favorable to their employees.
Common Overtime Violations
Federal and state wage and hour laws are known for common overtime problems that are violated in the following ways:
- Working off the clock
- failure to pay overtime to eligible employees…”We don’t pay overtime, our employees just volunteer extra work.”
- Failure to adhere to FLSA’s record keeping requirements…
- “We let our people keep their own records.”
- No time for meals and breaks…
- “Our employees just snack throughout the day in order to get important work out.”
- Other violations include:
- having wages withheld,
- failure to reimburse out-of-pocket expenditures such as uniforms,
- and giving “comp time” in lieu of overtime to non-government employees.
Olan Mills, Inc. found themselves in hot water after 18 current and former hourly employees brought allegations of wage and hour violations that ran the whole gamut. Unpaid overtime, failure to provide meal breaks, withholding of wages, no expense reimbursements, and forced off-the-clock time constituted the meat of the plaintiffs’ allegations. They settled out of court for $3 million dollars.
- For example, the FLSA overtime law 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; and
- 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, FLSA overtime rules do not limit the number of hours in a day or days in a week an employee may be required or scheduled to work if the employee is at least 16 years old.
- These matters are for agreement between the employer and the employees or their authorized representatives.