Wage and hour laws regulate the time employees spend working and the amount they are paid. These laws cover such topics as minimum wage, what constitutes time worked, tips, what employers must pay, overtime, rest breaks and meal breaks. In order to avoid potential civil and criminal penalties, it is essential for employers to fully understand wage and hour laws, and remain in compliance with them.
Minimum Wage in Alabama
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the minimum wage is $7.25 for each hour worked. Employees in Alabama are entitled to this rate since the state has not established a minimum wage.
Minimum Wage of Tipped Workers: Federal law permits employers to pay employees who earn tips a lesser amount of $2.13 per hour as long as their total earnings, tips included, average the minimum wage. Alabama employers must adhere to the federal law, because the state does not have a minimum wage law.
Does Minimum Wage Apply to Me: Federal wage and hour laws protect most Alabama employers. The FLSA covers employers involved in interstate commerce, as well as those who handle, produce or sell goods. Employees who are exempt from wage and hour laws include outside sales employees, farm laborers and newspaper delivery workers. To learn more about who is exempt and who is covered, refer to the U.S. Department of Labor.
When are Raises Required: Pay increases are not covered by Alabama or federal law. Rather, raises are subject to agreements between employers and their workers. Pay raises may be given based on factors, including an employee’s work performance and his or her overall production.
Work Hours in Alabama
Neither Alabama nor federal law places limitations on the number of hours employees are permitted to work in a day or week. All employees who are at least 16 can work as many hours per day or week as they see fit.
Paying Overtime: There are no overtime laws in Alabama, so employers are beholden to the federal laws. This stipulates that workers must receive 1 1/2 times their regular pay rate for every hour worked over 40 hours in a week. Federal overtime regulations cover most employers, but there are several exceptions. Airline employees and taxicab drivers are usually exempt from overtime laws, as are domestic workers who reside with their employers.
Guaranteed Breaks and Meals: Alabama and federal laws do not require employers to offer their workers breaks for meals or rest. There is an exception, however, for nursing mothers, who must be allowed time to express milk for up to one year after they give birth. If employers do offer meal or rest breaks, they must pay any employees who work through their breaks for their time. Shorter breaks of between five and 20 minutes are paid because they are viewed as part of a normal work day.
Paid Time-off and Sick Pay: Employers in Alabama are not required under state or federal law to offer workers paid time-off or sick pay. Any agreements regarding sick leave or vacation time are at the discretion of employers and arranged between them and their workers.
Notice Period for Employee Termination: Alabama is what’s known as an at-will employment state. Therefore, employers are able to end workers’ employment at any time and without valid reason, provided they do not have a contract that specifies otherwise.
Plant Closings & Layoffs: There are no specific state regulations relating to layoffs in Alabama. Therefore, employers must comply with the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. The WARN Act is applicable to employers who have more than 100 full-time workers, mass layoffs and plant closings. In certain situations, it requires employers to offer 60 days’ notice when closing plants or laying off workers.
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