Fair Labor Standards Act

Originally enacted in 1938, this federal statute establishes the nation's basic labor standards. It requires both public and private employers to maintain certain minimum conditions of employment.

Basic to these conditions are the minimum wage; time and one-half pay for work over 40 hours per week for non-exempt jobs; and limits on the employment of children, including employment in hazardous work such as, mining, manufacturing and most construction, and on certain hazardous equipment. The Act is enforced by the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division, which has offices in most major cities.

The minimum wage provisions have changed from time to time; the current rate is $5.15. Additionally, most states have minimum wage laws. If they are higher than the federal law they become the controlling minimum wage in the state, but enforcement must be through the state's department of labor or similar agency.

There are special provisions for state, county, and municipal employees allowing for compensatory time off in lieu of overtime. Time off instead of overtime pay for other workers is not allowed, and workers can recover back pay. Additionally, there are special rules for fire fighters, medical workers, and police. As a general rule professionals, administrators, executives and managers are excluded from the overtime provisions of the law and may be paid a fixed salary for all hours worked.

Also, as a general rule, the base rate for over-time premium pay computation includes shift premiums and bonuses; and salaried workers cannot be docked for partial day absences.

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