In 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) became law and established wage and work hour protections that impact our nation’s full- and part-time workers and their employers. The FLSA sets minimum wage standards and limitations on child labor. This federal law also provides protections for workers regarding work policies, including overtime and record keeping. As employers are expected to comply with federal as well as state laws regarding employment, workers can better protect themselves by knowing their rights.

Overtime Protections

Overtime relates to compensation for special pay requirements when employees work beyond their standard work week. Certain employees, such as managers, teachers, television personalities and seasonal workers, are exempt from these FLSA provisions. Nonexempt workers, however, must be paid overtime pay at a rate of not less than one and one-half times their regular rates of pay for any hours in excess of a 40-hour work week.

Employees should know that overtime pay is not optional and may not be waived, even in cases where the employer mandates prior approval for overtime work. Many employers don’t realize that when determining wages and overtime pay, pre-shift work, working through breaks or lunch and performing post-shift work must be considered.

Record Keeping

According to the FLSA, each employer covered by federal wage and hour regulations must maintain accurate records for each nonexempt and covered employee. While the form of the record can vary, it must include basic employee data regarding earnings, schedules, identifying information and occupation. Employers must retain a worker’s payroll records, collective bargaining agreements and sales and purchase records for three years. Records related to wage computation, which include but are not limited to tickets, tables and deductions, only need to be maintained for two years.

In 2009, the Department of Labor (DOL) processed more than 20,000 complaints, and employees filed more than 6,000 FLSA lawsuits. Poor record keeping and wage and hour violations can result in severe consequences for employers and were the basis for a $14.5 million verdict in Reich v. Southern New England Telecommunications Corporation.

An Attorney Can Help

The FLSA protects workers from exploitation and mistreatment from employers and gives them the opportunity to earn fair wages under fair working conditions. If employees believe that an employer is violating FLSA regulations, they can file complaints with their local Wage and Hour Division or file private suits to protect their rights and interests. For more information, contact an experienced labor attorney today.