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Fair Labor Standards Act

Most of the rules about working conditions are governed by state laws, but the federal government also has a set of standards. The Federal Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, sets the minimum standards for state wage and hour laws. The FLSA also defines what kind of behavior can be considered “working.” For example, the FLSA is the reason you do not get paid for your commute to work, but you should get paid for any work you do, no matter what the time or place. Take a look through the articles below to find out more about the FLSA, including special rules for tipped employees like waitstaff, and the difference between an exempt and a nonexempt employee.

Exempt Employees vs. Nonexempt Employees

Nonexempt employees are subject to the requirements relating to minimum wage, overtime, and other restrictions created by the FLSA. Exempt employees are not subject to these requirements. Examples of exempt employees include truck drivers and agricultural workers. Truck drivers must frequently work more than 40 hours a week by merit of the nature of their work. Agricultural workers receive less than minimum wage and must often work longer hours than typically permitted under FLSA. Higher salaries or overtime would grossly inflate the cost of food items and the work done is typically unskilled. Not all exempt employees are unskilled laborers. Executives, administrative employees, and professionals like lawyers, doctors, teachers, and other workers in jobs requiring advanced education may qualify as exempt employees. It should be noted, however, that since these positions are generally relatively high-level the FLSA minimum requirements are typically met regardless of their applicability.

Domestic Workers Bill of Rights

A domestic worker is someone employed as a member of a household's paid staff, such as nannies, housekeepers, babysitters, and elderly caretakers. Other periodic service providers such as roofers or painters are typically not considered to be domestic workers, though gardeners or handymen who work regularly in the household may qualify. Because of the private nature of employment of this kind household workers traditionally had fewer protections and less federal or state oversight of the conditions of employment than other workers.

However, in New York the Governor passed a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, intended to help reduce employment violations against domestic workers and raises work standards to a level closer to that of nonexempt workers despite domestic workers' frequent classification as exempt. This law provides comprehensive employment benefits, overtime pay, paid vacation, sick time, and health insurance.

Fair Wages

The FLSA determines, for many employees, eligibility for overtime, minimum wages, and paid leave availability. Overtime, for example, may not be available to employees paid more than $23,600 annually, salaried employees, or those engaged in managerial activities. Tip earners may not be subject to the FLSA's minimum wage requirements. It also determines whether an employee is entitled to pay in a number of other circumstances, such as when an employee seeks time off to vote or attend required training. Other laws may require an employer to reemploy a worker who is called for service in the National Guard or require unpaid leave for a worker to care for an immediate relative or give birth to a child.

Learn About Fair Labor Standards Act