HR Support on FLSA Regulations Compliance

Editor's Note: This old law continues to trouble employers with its complexities and ambiguities.

Michael CardmanOverview: The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was enacted in 1938, during the depths of the Great Depression. Its goal was to lift the nation back into prosperity by spreading the workload among more workers, thereby alleviating unemployment, and by giving consumers more spending money, thereby spurring the economy.

To accomplish those goals, the law established two main requirements for employers:

  • Minimum Wage Laws: All nonexempt employees must be paid a minimum wage; and
  • Overtime Laws: All nonexempt employees must receive one and one-half times their regular rate of overtime pay for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek.

Although the Great Depression has passed, the law continues to challenge employers. Few employers set out to deliberately violate FLSA regulations. Rather, most violations are the result of common mistakes, such as:

  • Misclassifying nonexempt employees as exempt;
  • Failing to count all hours worked, including certain break periods, waiting time, on-call time, travel time and activities before and after a shift; and
  • Failing to properly calculate overtime.

Employers also often get tripped up by variations between the FLSA regulations and state wage and hour laws. Sometimes the differences can be subtle; other times, they can be significant. But whatever the difference, employers must always comply with whichever law is more favorable to the employee.

Trends: The chances of getting away with noncompliance seem to get increasingly slim with every passing year.

Thousands of lawsuits are filed under the FLSA every year, more than any other federal employment law other than the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). At the same time, the U.S. Department of Labor continues to enforce the FLSA regulations aggressively.

The potential liability for noncompliance can be costly, including back wages, attorney fees and civil penalties.

These damages are often multiplied by hundreds or even thousands of employees, since it is relatively easy for large groups of employees to file collective actions under the FLSA. This results in settlements or verdicts that can easily add up to millions of dollars for larger employers.

Author: Michael Cardman, Legal Editor

Latest items in FLSA

  • Employee Classifications Handbook Statement: California

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    California employers that are covered by the California Labor Code and Wage Orders and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which require employers to properly classify their employees, should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Meal and Rest Breaks Handbook Statement: California

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    California employers seeking to establish expectations for meal and rest breaks and to demonstrate compliance with applicable federal and California law should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Lactation Accommodation Handbook Statement: California

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    California employers seeking to encourage and demonstrate compliance with the California law requiring employers to provide unpaid break time and reasonable locations for employees to express breast milk should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook .

  • Timekeeping Handbook Statement: California

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Most California employers are likely covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and therefore should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Overtime Handbook Statement: California

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    California employers that must comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and seek to address the circumstances under which employees classified by the employer as nonexempt will receive the overtime premium should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • South Dakota Enacts $7.50 Youth Opportunity Wage: Employment Law Manual Updated

    Date:
    27 March 2015
    Type:
    Editor's Choice

    South Dakota's minimum wage for minors under the age 18 is now $7.50, one dollar lower than the $8.50 minimum wage for adult employees.

  • Minimum Wage: South Dakota

    Type:
    Employment Law Manual

    In-depth review of the spectrum of South Dakota employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to minimum wage.

  • Meal Breaks for Minors Handbook Statement: New Jersey

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    New Jersey employers that employ minor employees (those under age 18) and seek to inform the minor employees and their supervisors about legally required meal breaks and to demonstrate compliance with New Jersey law should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Date:
    25 March 2015
    Type:
    Legal Timetable

  • Lactation Accommodation Handbook Statement: Washington

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Washington employers wishing to include an "infant-friendly" designation on their promotional materials should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.