The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards affecting full-time and part-time workers in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments.
The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) administers and enforces the FLSA with respect to private employment.
Basic Wage Standards
Covered, nonexempt workers are entitled to a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009. Nonexempt workers must be paid overtime pay at a rate of not less than one and one-half times their regular rates of pay after 40 hours of work in a workweek.
Wages required by the FLSA are due on the regular payday for the pay period covered. Deductions made from wages which reduce the wages of employees below the minimum rate required by the FLSA are not allowed.
The FLSA contains some exemptions from these basic standards. Some apply to specific types of businesses; others apply to specific kinds of work.
While the FLSA does set basic minimum wage and overtime pay standards and regulates the employment of minors, there are a number of employment practices which the FLSA does not regulate.
Who is Covered?
All employees of certain enterprises having workers engaged in interstate commerce, producing goods for interstate commerce, or handling, selling, or otherwise working on goods or materials that have been moved in or produced for such commerce by any person, are covered by the FLSA.
A covered enterprise is the related activities performed through unified operation or common control by any person or persons for a common business purpose and —
whose annual gross volume of sales made or business done is not less than $500,000 (exclusive of excise taxes at the retail level that are separately stated); or
is engaged in the operation of a hospital, an institution primarily engaged in the care of the sick, the aged, or the mentally ill who reside on the premises; a school for mentally or physically disabled or gifted children; a preschool, an elementary or secondary school, or an institution of higher education (whether operated for profit or not for profit); or
is an activity of a public agency.
Employees of firms which are not covered enterprises under the FLSA still may be subject to its minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor provisions if they are individually engaged in interstate commerce or in the production of goods for interstate commerce, or in any closely-related process or occupation directly essential to such production.
Some employees are exempt from the overtime pay provisions or both the minimum wage and overtime pay provisions.
Because exemptions are generally narrowly defined under the FLSA, an employer should carefully check the exact terms and conditions for each. Detailed information is available from local WHD offices.
Following are examples of exemptions which are illustrative, but not all-inclusive. These examples do not define the conditions for each exemption.
Exemptions from Both Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay
Executive, administrative, and professional employees (including teachers and academic administrative personnel in elementary and secondary schools), outside sales employees, and employees in certain computer-related occupations (as defined in DOL regulations);
Employees of certain seasonal amusement or recreational establishments, employees of certain small newspapers, seamen employed on foreign vessels, employees engaged in fishing operations, and employees engaged in newspaper delivery;
Farmworkers employed by anyone who used no more than 500 “man-days” of farm labor in any calendar quarter of the preceding calendar year;
Casual babysitters and persons employed as companions to the elderly or infirm.
The FLSA requires employers to keep records on wages, hours, and other items, as specified in DOL recordkeeping regulations. Most of the information is of the kind generally maintained by employers in ordinary business practice and in compliance with other laws and regulations. The records do not have to be kept in any particular form and time clocks need not be used.
Records required for exempt employees differ from those for nonexempt workers.
WHD’s enforcement of the FLSA is carried out by investigators stationed across the U.S., regardless of immigration status. As WHD’s authorized representatives, they conduct investigations and gather data on wages, hours, and other employment conditions or practices, in order to determine compliance with the law. Where violations are found, they also may recommend changes in employment practices to bring an employer into compliance.
It is a violation to fire or in any other manner discriminate against an employee for filing a complaint or for participating in a legal proceeding under the FLSA.
Willful violations may be prosecuted criminally and the violator fined up to $10,000. A second conviction may result in imprisonment.
Employers who willfully or repeatedly violate the minimum wage or overtime pay requirements are subject to a civil money penalty of up to $1,100 for each such violation.
The FLSA prohibits the shipment of goods in interstate commerce which were produced in violation of the minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor, or special minimum wage provisions.