10 Salient Features of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Author: Michael D. Haberman - SPHR
1. Definition of FLSA
The FLSA is one of the most general federal labor laws in the United States. It holds the minimum wage provisions, child labor restrictions, Equal Pay Act and a lot of other federal labor and employment law sections. As per this Act most employees must be paid time and one-half for all overtime "hours worked."
2. Who Is Covered
FLSA covers businesses that gross at least $500,000/yr, businesses that engage in interstate commerce, hospitals and businesses that engage in institutional care of the sick, aged or mentally ill. It also covers preschools, elementary, secondary schools and schools for the disabled or gifted children, federal, state and local governments. Employees, who handle, sell, produce, or otherwise work on goods or materials that have come from, or will go to, another state, or use the mail, telephone, computer or other equipment to communicate across state lines.
3. Rate at which FLSA overtime be paid
Time and one-half the "standard hourly rate." (For workers whose regular pay is not an "hourly" rate, their usual rate requires converting pay to an hourly correspondent. Shift differentials, Longevity pay and similar nondiscretionary wage supplements paid for work should generally be included in computing the FLSA overtime rate. There are certain other provisions which may permit arrangements to pay for some work at a different rate, but only if the work varies from the employee's regular job, and performed only by agreement.
4. FLSA Threshold
The FLSA usually requires overtime for hours worked above 40 hours per week. In a standard, 40 hour week situation, the FLSA "threshold" is 40 hours. A few government employees and a few medical employees may have different thresholds. In FLSA, only "real" work time counts toward the overtime threshold. Leave time are not counted as work time under the FLSA, even if the employee is paid for the time and regarded working time for other purposes.
5. Breaks and Meals
The FLSA does not enforce breaks or meal periods be given to employees. Certain states might have requirements for breaks or meal periods. If you work in a state which does not require breaks or meal periods, these benefits could be made available only upon the employer – employee agreement.
6. Basics of overtime
An organization pays for overtime based on a “workweek” that is a fixed and regular interval of 7 consecutive, 24-hour periods or days for a total of 168 hours. It does not have to coincide with a calendar week. Overtime is earned for hours worked greater than 40 hours in a workweek. It is paid at the rate of 1.5 times the employee’s “regular rate” of pay for all hours worked over 40. It must be paid in relation to the workweek in which it is earned.
7. Express breast milk in the workplace
Effective March 23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act amended the FLSA to require employers to provide a nursing mother reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has a need to express the milk. An employer must provide an area, other than a restroom, that is shielded from intrusion by other employees or the public.
8. 7(k) Exemption
The Fair Labor Standards Act usually requires overtime at time and one-half for all hours worked over 40hrs per week. However, there is a definite rule for fire departments and government police agencies which allows a different "work period" in some circumstances. If the employer creates a substitute work period under section 7(k) of the FLSA, overtime is owed (under the FLSA) only for hours worked in surplus of a threshold number of hours per work period, which will be diverse from (and more than) the normal 40 hours per week.
9. FLSA Case
Any employee can start an FLSA case by hiring an attorney. Employees generally seek out attorneys with adequate FLSA experience, or local attorneys having "affiliate" with FLSA lawyers on particular cases.
10. Consequences of an FLSA case
The FLSA prevents discrimination or retaliation against an employee who puts forward an FLSA case. The FLSA does not forbid the management of an organization from changing working conditions or schedules to lessen or eliminate FLSA overtime liabilities in the future.

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