If you plan on starting your own business or if you will be taking over one soon, then you need to familiarize yourself with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This law clearly states that employees must earn a minimum wage and must receive overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week. In addition to reviewing the FLSA, you should also review any additional laws that your state or city has. By learning what is expected of you, you will significantly diminish your chances of violating wage and hour laws.
As of this writing, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. That means that $7.25 is the bare minimum you can pay your workers. However, every state has its own minimum wage. Some are higher and some are lower than the federal mandate, and it is your responsibility to pay your employees whichever one is higher. There is always the possibility that the federal minimum wage will change in the future, so make sure to remain up-to-date on any developments in that area.
You can avoid any run-ins with the law by paying your workers minimum wage. If you pay less than what is legally required, your workers can file a complaint with the Department of Labor. They may also file with your state’s agency.
A full-time position correlates to 40 hours a week, so anything more than that would be considered overtime. The FLSA states that employees working more than 40 hours a week are entitled to time and a half for any additional hours. For example, if your employee makes $10.00 an hour and he or she works 45 hours a week, then for those extra five hours, your employee would earn $15.00 an hour.
Some employers will try to avoid paying overtime by having employees work off the clock. A worker may clock out at a reasonable time, but then still have work to do for you. If employees are doing something for you, then they need to be compensated for it.
Other Ways Business Owners Violate Labor Laws
Many states have laws about giving employees time off to take a lunch break. This break is generally unpaid, but it gives people some much needed time off from work. If you are giving your workers a lunch break, then you need to be certain it is actually a break. Some employees will simply eat at their desks or take calls while they are eating. This is not considered a break because the employee is still working and is not being paid for it. If you notice some of your workers eating on the job, then you need to encourage them to actually take a break. Even if your workers do not file a complaint about this, a third party could see it and take you to court.
Another problem employers run into is incorrectly classifying true employees as independent contractors. There are certain benefits actual employees receive that consultants do not. Therefore, some business owners will intentionally classify a position as being “independent contractor” when in actuality, it should really be a “full-time employee.” For example, independent contractors are not entitled to overtime pay. Make sure you educate yourself about the differences between the two so that you do not accidentally break the law. Someone working as an independent contractor who feels like he or she should really be receiving the benefits of an employee can file a lawsuit that utilizes a lot of money and resources.
The best course of action to take is always prevention, so follow the law to a “T” and steer clear of any labor violations. You may be violating a law without even knowing it, so look into the laws your state has to ensure all your employees are treated fairly.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.