About the Fair Labor Standards Act
Wage and Hour Laws
The Fair Labor Standards Act was enacted more than 75 years ago to establish workplace hours, wages and child labor standards in the United States. The FLSA sets the federal minimum wage, which is updated periodically by legislative action, and determines what is considered compensable hours of work. In addition, the statute contains a variety of exceptions to minimum wage, overtime pay rights and the hours that constitute a workweek.
Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay
The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour. Florida’s minimum wage is $8.05, which prevails because it is more than the federal amount. Businesses are permitted to pay their tipped employees $5.03 per hour and take a tip credit of $3.02.
In most circumstances, employees are subject to a 40-hour workweek. Businesses must pay employees at a rate of time plus time and one-half for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Businesses are not required to pay extra for holidays or weekends unless the employee is working overtime on those days.
Exceptions exist for certain types of occupations, such as first responders, military servicemembers, nurses, construction workers, technicians and certain blue-collar workers. In addition, executives, professionals, administrators, computer-related occupations and outside sales representatives are not subject to the overtime requirements. For this reason, correct classification is crucial.
Determining which hours are considered work is not always straightforward. The FLSA provides some guidance, but a business must also adhere to its own policies in addition to complying with the law. For example, the FLSA does not require employers to pay for lunch periods of 30 minutes or more, but if the company handbook provides for paid lunch breaks, the company must pay its employees for that time. However, the company may be able to withhold pay if an employee takes more than the allowable break time in violation of the company’s policies.
Some activities in which the line between compensable and unpaid hours can become blurred include:
- Lunch breaks
- Brief breaks of less than 20 minutes
- Responses to emails and phone calls outside of business hours
- Mandatory on-call hours
- Required and voluntary training
- Security measures implemented by the company
- Time required to change into safety clothing or a uniform
- Travel time between appointments
- Out-of-town meetings and overnight work-related trips
- Waiting time when engaged to wait
- Break time for nursing mothers
- Duties that are unrelated to the job
An employer should review its compensable hours policies periodically or whenever it changes its policies regarding its workers’ activities. The employee handbook should clearly reflect the workers’ compensable hours and direct workers not to engage in certain activities — such as making off-hour phone calls — if they will not be paid for their time as required by the FLSA.
Learn More About Compliance with the FLSA
Gunterfirm advises businesses on compliance with FLSA and helps employees and employers resolve wage and hour disputes. Call our Fort Myers/ Naples employment and labor law firm at 239.334.7017 or contact us online to learn more at your free initial consultation.