Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

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What is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)? 

The Fair Labor Standards Act or FLSA is a federal law unique to the United States. Created in 1938, the FLSA was created to protect workers from poor working conditions and abuses during the Industrial Revolution and the Great Depression. While the FLSA has changed multiple times, its goal remains. The Fair Labor Standards Act protects workers and regulates employment concerns by establishing minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards. 

What are the responsibilities of employers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)?? 

All employers in the private sector as well as in federal, state, and local government must adhere to the applicable FLSA laws. Non-compliance can lead to possible civil and criminal violations. 

Are all employees covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)?

Not all employees are covered under the FLSA. In the workplace, employees are classified as being “exempt employees” or “non-exempt employees”. According to the regulations of the FLSA, the overtime pay and minimum wage standard requirements only apply to non-exempt workers. 

What is the distinction between the two? Let’s take a look.

How can an employee be an exempt employee?

To be categorized as an exempt employee, the following three factors must be satisfied:

The bottom line is that exempt employees are not entitled to be paid overtime hours and also do not qualify for minimum wage laws. The option to provide overtime pay for exempt employees is upon the discretion of the employer. They may give it if they choose, but they have no obligation to do so. 

What is the meaning of FLSA Non-Exempt? 

Non-exempt employees are employees whose wages are less than $684 per week, are usually paid by the hour, and whose job duties are not considered exempt. They are entitled to overtime pay and qualify for minimum wage requirements. 

What does the FLSA say about overtime pay? 

According to the FLSA, employees are required to provide non-exempt employees with overtime pay. The rate should not be less than time-and-a-half (1.5x the employee’s normal hourly wage) for non-exempt employees who worked over 40 hours in one week. 

However, there are certain exceptions to the 40 hours per workweek standard in special circumstances such as police officers, firefighters in public agencies, and hospital and nursing home employees. Again, exempt employees are not entitled to any overtime pay. 

What does the FLSA say about the minimum wage?

The present federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. However, there are U.S. states that have set a minimum wage that is higher than the federal minimum wage. In case of an overlap, the employer must pay the state minimum wage which has a higher value. 

What does the FLSA say about child labor?

The FLSA upholds child labor provisions to protect minors from employment with conditions that endanger their safety, health, and well-being. The FLSA also protects the educational opportunities of minors. Additionally, there are restrictions on the hours of work and a list of prohibited hazardous farm and non-farm jobs.

What does the FLSA say about recordkeeping?

According to the FLSA, employers must keep accurate records on employee wages, hours worked, and other information aligned with recordkeeping regulations and guidelines. 

What does the FLSA say about breaks and meal periods?

Generally, there are no FLSA requirements dedicated to breaks and meal periods. However, some states may have standards requirements set for breaks or meal periods. If the location of the business is in a state where there are no breaks or meal periods required, the decision to provide breaks to employees falls on the employer and their agreement with employees. 

What does the FLSA say about break time for nursing mothers?

Although the FLSA does not have regulations on breaks and meal periods for workers in general, it is different when it comes to nursing mothers. As per the FLSA, employers must provide reasonable break time for nursing mothers who need to express breast milk during work hours. This is required for one whole year after the birth of the child. Furthermore, employers also need to provide a suitable place (not a bathroom) that is private, shielded from view, and free from intrusions from colleagues and the public. This space should be functional where the mother can comfortably express breast milk. If the office does not have a dedicated room solely for the use of nursing mothers, it is okay to convert a space into one. This space must be available for use whenever needed by nursing mothers. 

What does the FLSA say about vacation pay, sick pay, and holiday pay?

It is important to note that while the FLSA has requirements on overtime pay and minimum wage, it does not require vacation, holiday, sick, or severance pay. These are all upon the discretion of the employers and their agreement with their employees.

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