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

  • Overtime Handbook Statement: Kentucky

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Kentucky employers seeking to inform employees, including supervisors, about Kentucky requirements regarding overtime pay on the seventh day of work in a workweek should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Meal and Rest Breaks Handbook Statement: Kentucky

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Kentucky 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.

  • Meal and Rest Breaks for Minors Handbook Statement: Kentucky

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

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

  • Meal Breaks Handbook Statement: Nebraska

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Nebraska employers with assembly plant, workshop or mechanical establishments seeking to encourage and demonstrate compliance with Nebraska's meal break requirements should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Lactation Accommodation Handbook Statement: Tennessee

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Tennessee employers that seek to show their compliance and support for Tennessee 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 their handbook.

  • Meal Breaks Handbook Statement: Tennessee

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Tennessee employers seeking to inform employees and their supervisors about legally required meal breaks and to demonstrate compliance with the law should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Meal Breaks for Minors Handbook Statement: Tennessee

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

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

  • Minimum Wage: New Mexico

    Type:
    Employment Law Manual

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

  • Meal Breaks Handbook Statement: Delaware

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Delaware employers with five or more employees that seek to encourage and demonstrate compliance with the state's meal break requirements should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Meal Breaks for Minors Handbook Statement: Delaware

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

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