Employment in the United States is fairly well regulated by both federal and state governments. While California and Nevada both set their own laws regarding minimum wage, it is federal law that sets the minimum allowed. In addition, federal laws allow for exceptions to the minimum wage rules and dictates overtime pay, along with managing the employment of minors.
Workers should become familiar with the Fair Labor Standards Act, which is the law that sets wage rules. If an employer violates the FLSA, an employee has the right to report it. The FLSA is managed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. If a worker files a complaint against an employer for violating the FLSA, the WHD investigates it.
In general, the FLSA covers anyone employed in the country. The FLSA only regulates wages and the employment of minors. It does not cover the following:
- Payment of final wages
- Pay incentives for weekends or holidays
- Special pay for sick time off, vacation or severance
- Hours worked for employees over 16 years of age
The basic wage requirements, which are referred to as minimum wage, were last set in 2009 at a rate of $7.25 an hour. If an employee works over 40 hours in one week, he or she is entitled to overtime, which is paid at one and one-half times the wage normally earned. For salaried employees, the salary must calculate to equal at least minimum wage and include overtime rates, if applicable.
There are exceptions to the rules. Three to note involve subminimum wages, youth minimum wages and tipped employees. Subminimum wages are paid in special situations to help encourage the employment of people who have a disability and student workers. In situations approved by the WHD, such workers can be paid less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
Youth minimum wage allows those under 20 years old to be paid a wage as low as $4.25 an hour for the first 90 days. Tipped employees can be paid at minimum $2.13 per hour if employers can prove these workers earn at least $7.25 an hour due to tips.
Any employer who is not paying at least the minimum wage when required by law is violating the FLSA. Employees, especially those on salary wages or receiving tips, should monitor their pay to ensure their employer is meeting the requirements. For more information about wage laws, consider contacting an attorney.