Work hours, pay issues, questions, oh my! As a small business owner or manager, the requirements governing meal break laws and other compensation issues can seem trickier than traveling the Yellow Brick Road. My FAQ guide to work hours and pay issues, which are governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), will help you sort it all out:
How many hours are required for full-time and part-time employment?
Full-time or part-time employment rules are generally determined by the employer and not by Department of Labor laws.
Are there laws about compensating for breaks and meal periods?
Although the FLSA doesn’t require employers to give time off for breaks or meals, some states may have their own meal break laws. When employers do offer short breaks (up to about 20 minutes), federal law dictates that employees must be compensated. Work break laws also say that employers do not need to compensate for meal breaks (a minimum of 30 minutes).
Do I need to pay extra to employees working nights or shift work? Is it necessary to pay extra for weekend work?
No. Employers aren’t required by law to pay extra for night or shift work. Work hour laws also don’t dictate employers pay extra for weekend work. However, if the night and weekend workers are non-exempt and work more than 40 hours in a work week, Department of Labor laws say they must be paid overtime.
Are there Department of Labor laws regarding flexible schedules?
The FSLA does not govern flexible work schedules, which are typically defined as those that allow personnel to vary arrival and/or departure times. Flexible work schedules are often considered a matter between the employer and the employee.
How can I make sure I’m compliant with vacation pay rules?
Employers aren’t required to pay employees for time not worked. That includes vacations and sick leave as well as holidays. Since there is no federal vacation pay law, paid time off is a matter between the employer and the employee.
Is there a sick leave entitlement?
Although employers are not required to pay for sick leave, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) says that covered and eligible employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain medical situations that affect the worker or a member of the employee’s immediate family.
Also, if an employer offers sick leave and the worker leaves before using all of it, FLSA sick time law says the employer is not required to pay the worker for that time.
Non-compliance can be worse than the Wicked Witch of the West.
The Wicked Witch may have had her band of flying monkeys, but the Department of Labor can make non-compliance a costly and time-consuming nightmare for your small business. Know the ins and outs of employment law, from vacation pay rules to sick leave payment, so you can make the management decisions that build a strong and profitable business.
If you’re a small business owner or manager with questions about your obligations regarding Department of Labor laws, this guide will give you answers. From guidelines about job sharing policy to last paycheck laws, here is Part II of my frequently asked questions guide to work hours and other pay issues.
Are there travel time laws I need to be aware of?
Any time spent traveling during normal working hours is considered work time, which means employees must be compensated. While travel time generally doesn’t include commuting time, it does include, for example, time spent traveling to and from a client’s office.
How do I know if I’m required to provide hazard pay?
Hazard pay is additional compensation for work involving physical hardship or for performing a hazardous duty. Physical hardship is defined as any work that causes extreme physical discomfort or distress that’s not relieved by protective devices.
The law doesn’t specifically require employers to provide hazard pay except as a part of “a federal employee’s regular rate of pay in computing employee’s overtime pay.
What is minimum wage for employees who get tips?
A “tipped” worker is anyone in an occupation that regularly receives more than $30 each month in tips. Department of Labor laws require employers to pay a minimum of $2.13 per hour in direct wages-provided that when the worker’s tips are added to the direct wage, it is at least equal to the federal minimum wage. If the employee’s wage plus tips doesn’t equal the federal minimum hourly wage, you are required to make up the difference.
Be aware that many states require higher minimum wages than the federal standard for tipped employees. So always check with your local jurisdiction to make sure you’re in compliance with federal and local laws. For a state-by-state breakdown of minimum wages for tipped employees, visit the Department of Labor’s tipped employee wage chart.
Is merit pay required?
Merit pay is any increase in pay based on criteria set by you, the employer. Often called pay-for-performance, it’s often determined by an employer review using a set of criteria the employer has already established. Merit pay reviews are typically conducted on a regular basis (for example, every 6 months or 1 year) and often include a meeting to discuss the worker’s performance.
Employers are not required to provide pay-for-performances increases, according to Department of Labor laws.
Are there Department of Labor laws dictating job share arrangements?
No. There is no flexible working hours law regarding job sharing, which involves two or more employees sharing the responsibilities of a single full-time job or two or more workers with unrelated assignments who are the same budget line. Flexible work arrangements are considered a matter between employer and employees.
Does an employee need to receive his or her final paycheck immediately?
Although federal law doesn’t dictate that a former employee needs to receive a last paycheck immediately, some states have final paycheck laws that require immediate payment. Check with your state labor department to find out if your state has different requirements than the Department of Labor.
Make sure your company is in compliance.
While there may not be a job share law, there are a number of other federal and local regulations regarding work hours and other pay issues, such as hazard pay or a final paycheck. From travel time laws to last paycheck laws, make sure you have the information you need to keep your business in compliance.