Labor and Employment Law Overview: Arkansas

Labor and Employment Law Overview requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

Summary

  • Arkansas law prohibits an employer from discriminating and retaliating against employees in a variety of protected classes. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • In Arkansas, there are requirements relating to the minimum wage, overtime, breastfeeding breaks and child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • Arkansas has laws that relate to employee pay and benefits, including payment of wages, pay frequency, wage deductions and health care continuation. See Pay and Benefits.
  • Under Arkansas law, employees are entitled to certain leaves or time off, including jury duty leave, crime victim leave, military leave, voting leave and organ or bone marrow donation leave. See Time Off and Leaves of Absence.
  • Arkansas law prohibits smoking in the workplace and using a handheld wireless communication device while driving, but allows handguns in employees' vehicles in company parking lots. See Health and Safety.
  • When employment ends, Arkansas employers must comply with applicable final pay and job reference requirements. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in Arkansas

Arkansas has a few laws that provide greater protections to employees than federal law, including a higher minimum wage, health care continuation coverage obligations for smaller employers and organ and bone marrow donation leave, but generally follows federal law with respect to topics such as overtime pay, jury duty leave and military leave.

Select Arkansas employment requirements are summarized below to help an employer understand the range of employment laws affecting the employer-employee relationship in the state. An employer must comply with both federal and state law.

An employer must also comply with applicable municipal law obligations affecting the employment relationship, in addition to complying with state and federal requirements.

EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations

Key Arkansas requirements impacting EEO, diversity and employee relations are:

Fair Employment Practices

The Arkansas Civil Rights Act (ACRA) provisions generally apply to employers with nine or more employees and protects several protected classes from employer discrimination, including:

  • Race;
  • Religion;
  • Gender (including pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions);
  • National origin (including ancestry); and
  • Disability.

The ACRA's antidiscrimination provisions apply to employers with nine or more employees in Arkansas, while its antiretaliation provisions apply to all employers in Arkansas.

In addition, Arkansas prohibits discrimination based on:

  • Genetic information; and
  • Military service (employers with five or more employees).

Equal Pay

An Arkansas employer may not discriminate in the payment of wages based on sex. A variation in pay may be based on a difference in seniority, experience, training, skill, ability, duties or services performed, shift or time of day worked, or any other reasonable differentiation other than sex.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on EEO, diversity and employee relations practices in Arkansas can be found in the Arkansas Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Disabilities (ADA): Arkansas, EEO - Discrimination: Arkansas, EEO - Retaliation: Arkansas, EEO - Harassment: Arkansas and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Arkansas? Federal requirements can be found in Disabilities (ADA): Federal, EEO - Discrimination: Federal, EEO - Retaliation: Federal and EEO - Harassment: Federal.

Wage and Hour

Key Arkansas requirements impacting wages and hour are:

Minimum Wage

The Minimum Wage Act of the State of Arkansas requires an employer with four or more employees to pay employees at least $8.50 an hour.

Overtime

An employer with four or more employees must pay employees one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for any time worked in excess of 40 hours in one week. An employer does not have to pay overtime compensation to the employees who are exempt from overtime payments under federal law and other Arkansas laws.

Breastfeeding Breaks

An employer must provide reasonable unpaid break time to an employee who needs to express breast milk, unless it would create an undue hardship. This can include a paid or unpaid break that the employer already provides.

If providing such a break would create a significant difficulty or expense on the employer, the employer may be excused from providing this break.

Child Labor

Child labor laws in Arkansas restrict the occupations in which minors may be employed and the number of hours and times during which they may work.

Minors younger than 16 are prohibited from working in establishments that serve alcohol and in a variety of hazardous occupations; however, they may work in retail, food service and gas stations. Minors under the age of 14 may be employed only by a parent's or guardian's business during school vacation. Minors over the age of 13 may work during nonschool hours as a seasonal agricultural laborer picking, sorting or hauling any crop with their hands.

Minors who are 16 years old may not work:

  • More than six days in one week;
  • More than 54 hours in one week;
  • More than 10 consecutive hours in any day;
  • More than 10 hours in a 24-hour period; and
  • Before 6:00 a.m. or after 11:00 p.m., unless the child is working on a night preceding a nonschool day.

Minors who are 14 and 15 years old may not work:

  • More than six days in one week;
  • More than 48 hours in one week;
  • More than eight hours in any day; and
  • Before 6:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m., unless the child is working on a night preceding a nonschool day, in which case he or she may work until 9:00 p.m.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on wage and hour practices in Arkansas can be found in the Arkansas Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Minimum Wage: Arkansas, Overtime: Arkansas, Hours Worked: Arkansas, Child Labor: Arkansas, Arkansas Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Arkansas? Federal requirements can be found in Minimum Wage: Federal, Overtime: Federal, Hours Worked: Federal and Child Labor: Federal.

Pay and Benefits

Key Arkansas requirements impacting pay and benefits are:

Payment of Wages

Employees must be paid in cash, by check or direct deposit.

An employee may opt out of direct deposit by making a written request for payment by check.

An employee has the right to be paid in cash if the employer has at any time paid the employee with a check drawn on an account with insufficient funds.

Pay Frequency

All corporations doing business in Arkansas must pay their salespeople, mechanics, laborers or other service workers at least semimonthly.

Corporations with gross annual income of $500,000 or more must pay managers and executives who are exempt from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and earn more than $25,000 per year on a monthly basis, and nonexempt employees at least semimonthly.

An employer that operates a coal mine and employs four or more employees must pay wages semimonthly.

Wage Deductions

Deductions may be made from employees' wages if required by state or federal law or with the employee's written consent.

Health Care Continuation

The Arkansas health care continuation law requires that employers provide employees and their dependents the option of continuing health care coverage if coverage ends due to a change in marital status, termination of employment or termination of membership in the group health plan. Unlike federal law, Arkansas law does not provide continuation coverage in the event of a covered employee's death. In addition, Arkansas continuation coverage does not have to include benefits for dental care, vision services or prescription drugs.

The maximum period of coverage is up to 120 days following the date coverage would have otherwise terminated.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on pay and benefits practices in Arkansas can be found in Payment of Wages: Arkansas, Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Arkansas and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Arkansas? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal and Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Federal.

Time Off and Leaves of Absence

Arkansas has several laws relating to required time off and leaves of absence for employees, which cover all employers. These laws include:

  • Jury duty leave;
  • Crime victim leave;
  • Military leave;
  • Voting leave; and
  • Organ or bone marrow donation leave.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on time off and leave of absence practices in Arkansas can be found in the Arkansas Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Jury Duty: Arkansas, USERRA: Arkansas, Other Leaves: Arkansas and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Arkansas? Federal requirements can be found in Jury Duty: Federal, USERRA: Federal and Other Leaves: Federal.

Health and Safety

Key Arkansas requirements impacting health and safety are:

Smoke-Free Workplace

The Arkansas Clean Indoor Air Act prohibits smoking in enclosed areas in all places of employment, including, but not limited to, common work areas, conference rooms, private offices, elevators, hallways, cafeterias, employee lounges, stairs and restrooms.

Safe Driving Practices

Arkansas law prohibits all drivers from using a handheld wireless communication device to text, email or access the internet or to access, read or post to a social networking site while operating a motor vehicle.

Weapons in the Workplace

An employer may not prohibit an employee who is a concealed handgun licensee from transporting or storing a legally owned handgun in the employee's private motor vehicle in a company parking lot under certain circumstances (such as that the handgun is stored out of sight and locked in the vehicle).

An employer may terminate an employee for flagrantly or unreasonably displaying a handgun in plain sight of others at the employer's place of business or in plain sight in the employee's motor vehicle.

An employer that exercises control of a physical location may prohibit individuals from carrying concealed weapons on the premises by posting signs at entrances that state that "carrying a handgun is prohibited."

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on health and safety practices in Arkansas can be found in the Arkansas Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Employee Health: Arkansas, HR and Workplace Safety: Arkansas, Workplace Security: Arkansas and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Arkansas? Federal requirements can be found in Employee Health: Federal, HR and Workplace Safety (OSHA Compliance): Federal and Workplace Security: Federal.

Organizational Exit

Key Arkansas requirements impacting organizational exit are:

Final Pay

An employer must pay all wages due to an employee who is terminated involuntarily within seven days after termination.

References

Upon written consent of a current or former employee, an employer may disclose certain information regarding the employee's job history, including job description, attendance history and work-related threats or harassment.

An employer may be held liable in a civil claim if an employee shows, by the greater weight of the evidence, that the employer disclosed false information and:

  • The employer knew it was false; or
  • The employer showed a reckless disregard for the truth.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on organizational exit practices in Arkansas can be found in Payment of Wages: Arkansas, Performance Appraisals: Arkansas and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Arkansas? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal and Performance Appraisals: Federal.