What is the Fair Labor Standards Act?

The Wages and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was passed by Congress in 1938 to create a minimum standard of living for wage-earners, including a minimum wage, increased pay for overtime work, and regulations on child labor.

What Employers Should Know

If your business or enterprise meets the following criteria, your employees are covered by FLSA:

  • Must have at least two employees
  • Must have $500,000 in annual dollar volume of sales or business done
  • Or are a hospital, residential healthcare facility, educational institution, or government agency.

Record Keeping: Employers must keep records for every covered, nonexempt employee. The record must include accurate information regarding the employee, the hours the employee worked, and the wages the employee earned.

Notices and Posters: All employers subject to the Act must post notice explaining employee rights in a place where it can be easily located and read, such as a breakroom or near an entrance.

Penalties: Violators can be criminally prosecuted and fined up to $10,000. Second-time violators can be imprisoned. For violations of child labor provisions, employers can be made to pay up to $11,000 per employee for each violation. If death or serious injury happens to a minor employee, employers must pay $50,000 for each violation. A penalty can be doubled if the violation was determined to be willful or repeated.

What Employees Should Know

Minimum Wage: The federal legal minimum wage is $7.25 for full-time and part-time employment. Certain states and territories have additional laws, which raise the minimum wage in their jurisdictions. In states without minimum wage laws or have a minimum wage below that of the federal government, companies are subject to pay the federal minimum wage. 

Overtime: Overtime starts after 40 hours of work in one week. Employers must pay their employees one and a half times their normal hourly wage for any overtime work.

Under 18 and looking for a job?
Employers can hire employees under 20 years old at $4.25 per hour for the first 90 consecutive calendar days. 

  • 16-17 years of age: There are no time limits (i.e. 8 hours a day), but cannot perform hazardous jobs.
  • 14-15 years of age: When school is in session, children cannot work more than 3 hours on a school day and no more than 18 hours in a week. When school is not in session, they cannot work more than 8 hours in a day and no more than 40 hours in a week. Additionally, youth cannot work outside the hours of 7am and 7pm. This is extended to 9pm between June 1st and Labor Day.
  • Under 14 years of age: Youth under 14 may only: deliver newspapers, babysit, act in a movie, television show, or theatre production, work as a homeworker gathering evergreens or making wreaths, or work for a business entirely owned by their family as long as it is not mining, manufacturing, or any such hazardous occupation.

Do I need a permit to work? Where can I get one?
FLSA does not require youth have a work permit to get a job. However, work permits are required in certain states. Check with your state labor office for specific guidelines and how to apply.

Given the drastic increase in lawsuits and litigation in the last 20 years, it is essential employers ensure they are complying with all FLSA regulations. Protect your employees and your business by educating yourself on the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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