The Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a law that sets the requirements for various aspects of employment. These include standards for overtime pay, minimum wage, recordkeeping, and youth employment for employees in both the private and public sectors. 

Under the FLSA, nonexempt workers covered by the FLSA are entitled to receive minimum wage rates ($7.25/hour as of July 24, 2009), which can be subject to adjustment over time. In addition, unless an employee is exempt from FLSA's overtime requirements, they must be paid one-and-a-half times their regular hourly rate for any hour exceeding the 40-hour workweek (also called “time and a half”). 

FLSA’s child labor regulations provide several protections for minors aged 14 to 17 years old. These include restrictions on maximum work hours, and a list of occupations deemed too hazardous for minors to perform.

What are Some Fair Labor Standards Act Requirements?

The Fair Labor Standards Act creates several requirements. Some of the most important of them are those that require an employer to:

  • Pay employees at least minimum wage;
  • Pay overtime pay for time worked over 40 hours in a workweek;
  • Adhere to child labor provisions; and
  • Maintain various records of hours, wages, and other wage items ordinarily kept in a business practice.

What Type of Record-Keeping Standards does FLSA Require?

The FLSA requires employers to keep accurate and truthful records regarding wages, hours worked, and other important information. Records do not need to be kept in any specific form or format, and time clocks are not required. However, with respect to minimum wage and overtime provisions, employers must keep the following records: 

  • Personal info of the employees, including name, address, occupation, sex, and date of birth (if the employee is under 19 years old);
  • The hour and day when the workweek begins;
  • The total hours worked during each workday and workweek;
  • Total daily and/or weekly earnings;
  • Regular hourly pay rates for weeks when overtime is performed;
  • Total overtime pay for the week;
  • Anhy wage deductions or additions;
  • Total wages rendered for each pay period; and
  • Payment dates and pay periods covered. 

Special record-keeping information may be required for other types of employees, including homeworkers, employees who receive lodging, and other specific cases.

What Does the FLSA Not Require?

While the FLSA has many requirements, it does not require them to do certain things. These include:

  • Providing payment for employees who take valid vacation, sick leave, or holidays;
  • Giving workers compensation for meal or break periods;
  • Providing additional payment or higher wages for employees who work weekends, nights or holidays;
  • Providing a pay increase or fringe benefits;
  • Giving a discharge notice or reason for discharge;
  • Providing employees with severance pay;
  • Giving performance evaluations; and
  • Providing health insurance or other similar insurance benefits.

Which Employees are Not Covered Under the Fair Labor Standards Act?

The Fair Labor Standards Act contains many exemptions from its basic requirements. These depend on the type of business or work that the employer and employees engage in. Frequently, the overtime provision, the minimum wage provision, or both provisions will not apply to certain employees. 

Some common occupations and employees that are not covered under all or parts of the FLSA include:

  • Commissioned sales employees of retail or service establishments;
  • Seasonal and recreational establishments;
  • Computer professionals who earn at least $27.60 per hour;
  • Salesmen, partsmen, and mechanics of car dealerships;
  • Drivers, driver's helpers, loaders and mechanics;
  • Farmworkers; and
  • Executive, administrative, professional and outside sales employees who are paid on a salary basis.

What Does the FLSA Say About Child Labor?

The FLSA has several provisions covering child labor, which are intended to protect minors and children from job conditions that may be deterimental to their well-being or health. These provisions include prohibitions and restrictions regarding hours of work for minors under the age of 16 years old. 

The FLSA also maintains a list of occupations that are considered hazardous for children and thus too dangerous for them to perform. Some of these dangerous occupations include:

  • Coal mining occupations;
  • Jobs involving forest fires;
  • Excavation operations jobs; 
  • Various jobs involving different types of machinery, including power-driven metal working machines, circular saws, bakery machines, and various other machines; and
  • Many other types of jobs.

Child labor provisions are among the most strictly enforced FLSA provisions; violations of these terms can result in serious consequences for employers. 

What Types of Legal Remedies are Available through the FLSA?

The FLSA allows employees and certain entities (such as the Department of Labor) to claim various legal remedies in connection with an FLSA violation. In most cases, this allows an employee to recover costs such as back wages, as well as an equal amount in liquidated damages for wage or overtime violations. 

The employee should take care to file in a timely manner, as there is a 2-year statute of limitations (filing deadline) for recovering the back wages and/or liquidated damages. There is a 3-year statute of limitations filing deadline for cases where the employer has been involved in a willful (intentional) violation of FLSA provisions. 

Lastly, employers may not retaliate against, fire, or otherwise punish employees who have filed complaints under the FLSA and its provisions. If an employer does this, the employee may be able to sue based on retaliatory discharge laws or other similar laws. Under retaliatory discharge laws, the employee may be entitled to further remedies, including damages and reinstatement to the position they were fired from. 

Do I Need an Attorney for help with My Fair Labor Standards Act Issue?

The Fair Labor Standards Act is an important law that provides many protections for employees. If you are facing any FLSA issues, an employment attorney can help you determine whether you are an employee entitled to overtime pay or a minimum wage. 

An attorney can also assist you with a claim if you believe your employer has not paid you the minimum wage, or overtime for hours worked above a 40-hour workweek, and for any dispute regarding pay. If you are an employer, a lawyer in your area will make sure you are in compliance with state and federal employment laws.