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

  • Meal Breaks for Minors Handbook Statement: North Carolina

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    North Carolina employers that employ minor employees under age 16 and seek to inform the minor employees and their supervisors about legally required meal breaks and to demonstrate compliance with North Carolina law should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Lactation Accommodation Handbook Statement: Vermont

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Vermont employers seeking to show their compliance and support for Vermont law which requires that employers provide unpaid break time and reasonable locations for employees to express breast milk should consider including this model policy statement in a Vermont supplement.

  • Bathroom And Meal Breaks Handbook Statement: Vermont

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Vermont employers seeking to educate supervisors about the need to provide reasonable break opportunities, to inform employees about their rights with regard to using bathroom facilities during work and to demonstrate compliance with Vermont law should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Companionship Exemption Regulations Vacated: Employment Law Manual Updated

    Date:
    21 January 2015
    Type:
    Editor's Choice

    The Employment Law Manual and a How To have been updated to reflect a recent federal court ruling vacating two US Department of Labor regulations for companionship service providers.

  • Meal and Rest Breaks Handbook Statement: Colorado

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Colorado employers in the retail and service, commercial support service, food and beverage and health and medical industries seeking to encourage and demonstrate compliance with the meal and rest break requirements set forth in the Colorado Minimum Wage Order 30 should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Overtime Handbook Statement: Colorado

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Colorado employers in the retail and service, commercial support service, food and beverage or health and medical industries seeking to educate employees, including supervisors, about when employees may be entitled to premium pay for overtime in accordance with the Colorado Minimum Wage Order 30 should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Lactation Accommodation Handbook Statement: Colorado

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Colorado employers seeking to show compliance and support for the Colorado law requiring that employers provide unpaid break time and private locations for employees to express breast milk should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Meal Breaks for Minors Handbook Statement: Virginia

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Virginia employers that employ minor employees under age 16 and seek to inform the minor employees and their supervisors about legally required meal breaks and to demonstrate compliance with Virginia law should consider including this statement in their handbook.

  • Meal Breaks Handbook Statement: New Hampshire

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    New Hampshire employers seeking to inform employees and their supervisors about legally required meal breaks and to encourage and demonstrate compliance with New Hampshire's meal break requirements should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Meal and Rest Breaks Handbook Statement: Nevada

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Nevada employers seeking to encourage and demonstrate compliance with the state's meal and rest break requirements should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.