Prevailing laws on the federal and California levels provide that every worker is entitled to promptly receive the basic wages like the minimum wage and overtime pay, as well as other important labor essentials such as meal periods and rest breaks. With all these laws in place, it is imperative for every covered employer to adhere with the provisions stated in them, or risk facing grave sanctions and other consequences if they fail to uphold the rights of their workers.
One of the pertinent laws that govern U.S. labor is the Fair Labor and Standards Act or FLSA. It establishes standards on various aspects of labor, from minimum wage, overtime pay, to recordkeeping procedures, among others. The FLSA covers both the private and public sectors, including the federal, state, and local governments, and affects full-time and part-time workers. It is enforced by the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
Basic wage requirements under the FLSA
The FLSA minimum wage requirement states that workers are entitled to earn the federal rate of $7.25 per hour. This was made effective about 5 years ago, in 2009. When it comes to overtime pay, the FLSA states that an employee must be entitled to at least one and one-half times his or her regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek (or over 8 hours in a workday).
The ones who are entitled to these two basic wages are those that are called “non-exempt” employees. However, the FLSA exempts certain employees from receiving both minimum wage and overtime, and likewise exempts some employees from receiving only overtime wages, either total or partial.
The law likewise provides provisions for tipped workers and the youth who are eligible to perform work. For tipped employees who regularly or customarily receive $30.00 in tips every month, employers must be able to consider their tips as part of their basic wages. For youth employees under 20 years old, they must be paid not less than $4.25 per hour during their first 90 consecutive calendar days of employment.
Aside from the FLSA’s basic wage requirements that employers must adhere to, they must also be able to adhere with the regulations set forth by the law and the Department of Labor, especially with regard to keeping wage and hour records of their non-exempt employees and posting notices and posters that explain the Act itself on visible areas in the workplace.
What to do if an FLSA provision is breached
The Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division makes it a point to investigate employers believed to have committed FLSA violations. The role of the WHD is to have erring employers comply with the Act’s basic requirement by providing recommendations on the employment practices they should do in accordance with the Act. Also, erring employers are tasked to pay any outstanding wages that are due to employees.
Meanwhile, if you are a worker in California and you have not been paid minimum wage and/or overtime pay for a long time, you must be aware that your employer has already violated one of the most important FLSA provisions. It is a must that you consult with an employment lawyer who specializes in FLSA violations in order to determine the injunctive relief and damages you are entitled to.