FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act): The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law in the United States that establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards for employees in both the private sector and in federal, state, and local governments. Enacted in 1938, the FLSA is administered and enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD). The primary objective of the FLSA is to protect the rights and well-being of workers by ensuring they receive fair compensation and are not subjected to exploitative labor practices.
Key provisions of the FLSA include:
- Minimum Wage: The FLSA establishes a federal minimum wage, which is periodically updated by Congress. As of the knowledge cutoff date in September 2021, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. However, many states and localities have enacted their own minimum wage laws, some of which are higher than the federal minimum. In cases where state or local minimum wage rates differ from the federal rate, employers must pay the higher of the two rates to their employees.
- Overtime Pay: Under the FLSA, non-exempt employees who work more than 40 hours in a workweek must receive overtime pay at a rate of at least one and a half times their regular rate of pay for any hours worked beyond the 40-hour threshold. Certain categories of employees, such as those classified as “executive,” “administrative,” “professional,” and “outside sales” employees, may be exempt from the FLSA’s overtime requirements if they meet specific salary and job duties criteria.
- Recordkeeping: The FLSA requires employers to maintain accurate records of employees’ hours worked, wages earned, and other pertinent information. These records must be kept for a specific period, typically three years for payroll records and two years for supplementary records.
- Child Labor: The FLSA sets forth specific provisions regulating child labor in the United States. The law establishes minimum age requirements for employment, restricts the hours that minors under the age of 16 can work, and prohibits the employment of minors in certain hazardous occupations.
- Equal Pay: While not a direct provision of the FLSA, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 amended the FLSA to prohibit pay discrimination based on sex. This amendment mandates that employers provide equal pay for equal work performed by employees of the opposite sex in the same establishment, for jobs that require equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and that are performed under similar working conditions.
Compliance with the FLSA is critical for employers, as failure to adhere to the law can result in significant fines, penalties, and potential litigation. To ensure compliance, employers should:
- Understand and adhere to the applicable minimum wage and overtime pay requirements at both the federal and state levels.
- Accurately classify employees as exempt or non-exempt based on the FLSA criteria and applicable state laws.
- Maintain accurate and up-to-date records of employee hours worked and wages earned.
- Comply with child labor regulations and ensure that minors are not employed in prohibited occupations or work excessive hours.
- Monitor and address any potential pay disparities based on sex to ensure compliance with the Equal Pay Act.
In conclusion, the FLSA is a comprehensive labor law that establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards in the United States. Employers must ensure compliance with the FLSA and applicable state laws to protect the rights and well-being of their employees and to avoid potential legal and financial repercussions. By understanding and adhering to the provisions of the FLSA, employers can create a fair and equitable workplace environment that supports the welfare and success