Standards for the amount of time employees spend working and how much compensation they receive for that time are dictated by wage and hour laws. These laws offer guidance on a number of subjects, such as what employers are obligated to pay for, minimum wage rates, overtime, tips, meal and rest breaks, what is considered time worked, etc. To ensure employers remain up to date on pertinent laws, having an understanding of wage and hour regulations is key.
Minimum Wage in Missouri
Most employers in Missouri must pay a standard minimum wage rate of $7.65 per hour. Minimum wage increases or reductions can occur on a yearly basis if the cost of living (as determined by the Consumer Price Index) rises or falls. Missouri’s minimum wage rate is in contrast to the minimum wage set by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which is $7.25 an hour. Employees are entitled to the higher of the two wages.
Minimum Wage of Tipped Workers: Tipped employees in Missouri can be paid a minimum wage rate of $3.83, or half the state minimum wage. If an employee’s combined earnings with tips and direct wage fails to total $7.65, employers must make up the difference. According to the FLSA, tipped employees can be paid $2.13, but combined earnings must equal $7.25 for every hour worked. Again, employers must offer the higher wage to employees.
Does Minimum Wage Apply to Me: While many employers in Missouri are beholden to prevailing minimum wage laws, exceptions include retail or service businesses with annual gross incomes less than $500,000; these businesses are permitted to determine their own wage rate. At the federal level, farm workers, seasonal/recreational employees, and workers earning a commission are a few examples of those exempt from minimum wage and overtime laws. For a full listing of exemptions, refer to the United States Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division.
When Are Raises Required: Neither Missouri law nor the FLSA contain stipulations regarding workers’ raises. Raises are typically predicated on an agreement between employers and employees and often entail criteria such as worker productivity and the quality of the work performed among other considerations.
Work Hours in Missouri
There are no laws in Missouri that dictate the minimum or maximum number of hours an employee can work, although employers must properly compensate employees for the actual number of hours worked. The FLSA is also without regulations pertaining to the number of hours worked, meaning that all workers aged 16 or older are able to work as many hours during the day or week as they like.
Paying Overtime: Both Missouri and federal law requires that employees working in excess of a 40-hour work week receive overtime pay at a rate of one-and-one-half times their normal wage. Some employees are exempt from overtime laws, such as outside sales workers and those in computer-related professions.
Guaranteed Breaks and Meals: Breaks for meals or rest are not mandated in Missouri and are afforded at the discretion of employers. Federal law does require that nursing mothers receive breaks to express milk for up to one year after giving birth.
Paid Time Off and Sick Pay: In Missouri, employers are not obligated to provide either paid time off or sick pay unless a contract between employer and employee specifies the provision of such benefits. There are no federal laws requiring paid time off or sick pay.
Notice Period for Employee Termination: Employment in Missouri is known as at-will, which means employers are free to terminate employees for any reason and at any time without notice. However, employers must forward all wages due at the time of termination to the employee.
Plant Closings & Layoffs: Because Missouri is without specific regulations governing plant closings and mass layoffs, the state must adhere to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) act. This act applies to larger employers (those with at least 100 full-time employees), and calls for 60 days’ advance notice of closings and layoffs.
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