A General Overview of the Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is federal legislation that created rules for child labor and the payment of employees. In Washington State, the FLSA applies to people who work in the private sector and federal, state, and local government jobs. Both full-time and part-time employees get protections under the FLSA.

This is a general overview of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Your employer must display a poster that explains the essential provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Employers also must keep records of the hours that employees work and the amount they get paid. A Washington employment attorney can explain your rights under the Act and advocate on your behalf if your employer violated the law. 

Overtime and the Fair Labor Standards Act

If your position falls under the mandatory overtime pay provisions of the FLSA, the Act applies to you. It is possible for some employees at a company or agency to have protection under the FLSA while other employees at the same company or agency will not.  

Usually, if you get paid by the hour, you are eligible for overtime pay. Employees who are paid a salary typically do not get overtime pay. Sometimes, an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement will identify an employee’s position by whether or not the employee is eligible for overtime pay.  

When a worker whose position is covered under the FLSA works more than 40 hours in a single week, the employer must compensate that employee with either compensatory time or overtime pay. Compensatory time means that you get to take off time from work equal to the number of excess hours you worked. Overtime pay must be one and one-half times your regular pay rate. If you usually get paid $20 an hour, your overtime pay is $30 an hour for each hour worked over 40 hours that week.

Exempt Employees

The FLSA states that these types of employees are exempt from both the minimum wage and overtime pay:

  • Executive
  • Administrative
  • Professional
  • Computer
  • Outside sales

To qualify as a worker in one of those categories, you must be “bona fide;” in other words, both your job duties and salary must meet the Department of Labor’s requirements for those kinds of positions. Your employer cannot make you exempt from the FLSA merely by changing your job title.

Minimum Wage

If your job has FLSA coverage, your employer must pay you at least the minimum wage. When a state has a higher minimum wage than the federal minimum wage, the employer must pay the employee the higher wage.

Child Labor

The FLSA protects children from exploitation in the workplace. If the FLSA defines a particular job as detrimental to the health or well-being of a child, an employer cannot hire a child to perform that job. The child labor laws of the Act also limit the number of hours that children can work, to protect their opportunity to get an education.

If you think that your employer is violating the Fair Labor Standards Act, a Washington employment attorney could help you hold them accountable. Contact us today.