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What is FLSA?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a United States federal law enacted in 1938 that establishes minimum wage, overtime pay eligibility, recordkeeping, and child labor standards affecting employees in the private sector and in federal, state, and local governments. The FLSA aims to protect workers against certain unfair pay practices and work regulations.


Understanding FLSA compliance is crucial for employers to ensure they are meeting legal obligations and providing fair labor practices.

Key Provisions

The FLSA outlines essential labor standards that employers must adhere to, including minimum wage requirements, overtime pay regulations, recordkeeping responsibilities, and youth employment rules. Understanding these provisions helps ensure compliance and fair treatment of employees.

Minimum Wage

  • Federal Minimum Wage : The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour. Some states and cities have higher minimum wages. Employers must adhere to the highest applicable minimum wage.
  • Tipped Employees : Employers can pay tipped employees a lower direct wage, but tips combined with the direct wage must equal at least the federal minimum wage. The current federal tipped minimum wage is $2.13 per hour, provided that this amount plus tips received equals at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. If not, the employer must make up the difference.|

Overtime Pay

  • Overtime Requirements : Non-exempt employees must receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek at a rate of at least 1.5 times their regular rates of pay.
  • Exemptions : Certain employees are exempt from overtime pay, including executive, administrative, professional, outside sales employees, and some computer employees.

Proper classification of employees as exempt or non-exempt based on their job duties and salary is essential to avoid legal issues.

  • Executive Exemption : Applies to employees whose primary duty is management of the enterprise or a recognized department, who customarily and regularly direct the work of at least two other full-time employees, and who have the authority to hire or fire other employees.
  • Administrative Exemption : Applies to employees whose primary duty is office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer's customers, and who exercise discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.
  • Professional Exemption : Applies to employees whose primary duty is work requiring advanced knowledge in a field of science or learning, usually acquired through prolonged intellectual instruction.

Overtime Pay

  • Employer Responsibilities: Employers must keep accurate records of hours worked and wages paid to employees. This includes:
  • Personal information (name, social security number, address)
  • Hours worked each day and total hours worked each workweek
  • Basis on which employee’s wages are paid (e.g., hourly, weekly, piecework)
  • Regular hourly pay rate
  • Total daily or weekly straight-time earnings
  • Total overtime earnings for the workweek
  • All additions to or deductions from the employee's wages
  • Total wages paid each pay period
  • Date of payment and the pay period covered by the payment

Youth Employment

  • Child Labor Rules : The FLSA sets restrictions on the employment of minors, including the hours they can work and the types of jobs they can perform. These rules vary by age group and are designed to protect the health and well-being of young workers:
  • Under 14 : Can only work in specific jobs like delivering newspapers, babysitting, acting, and certain agricultural work.
  • 14-15 years old : Limited to non-hazardous jobs, with restrictions on hours and times of day. They can work outside school hours in various non-manufacturing, non-mining, non-hazardous jobs.
  • 16-17 years old : Can work in any non-hazardous job for unlimited hours. However, they are still prohibited from hazardous occupations as defined by the Secretary of Labor.

Compliance Tips for Employers

Implementing these practical strategies helps employers maintain adherence to FLSA regulations and foster a compliant workplace culture.

Classify Employees Correctly

Ensure employees are properly classified as exempt or non-exempt based on their job duties and salary. Misclassification can lead to costly legal issues and penalties. Review job descriptions regularly and update them to reflect actual job duties.

Maintain Accurate Records

Implement reliable timekeeping systems to track hours worked accurately. This helps prevent disputes and ensures compliance with overtime requirements. Employers must keep records for at least three years. Consider using electronic timekeeping systems to simplify the process.

Understand State and Local Laws

Be aware that some states and localities have labor laws that provide greater protections than the FLSA. Always follow the law that is most beneficial to the employee. For example, some states have higher minimum wages and different overtime rules. Regularly review state and local labor laws to ensure compliance.

Training and Education

Educate employees about their rights under the FLSA. This promotes transparency and helps avoid misunderstandings. Regular training sessions and accessible resources can help ensure compliance. Provide supervisors and managers with training to recognize FLSA issues and handle them appropriately.

Regular Audits

Conduct regular audits of your payroll and employment practices to ensure ongoing compliance with the FLSA and other applicable labor laws. This proactive approach can help identify and correct issues before they lead to violations. Consider hiring an external auditor to provide an objective assessment of your compliance.

Additional Tips

  • Consultation : Consult with employment law attorneys or HR professionals to ensure your business practices comply with all relevant labor laws.
  • Policy Updates : Regularly update your company's employment policies to reflect changes in the law.
  • Employee Communication : Maintain open lines of communication with employees regarding their work hours, pay, and any changes to company policies.


Understanding and complying with the FLSA is essential for all employers. By familiarizing yourself with the Act's provisions and maintaining diligent employment practices, you can ensure a fair and legally compliant workplace. Regular training, audits, and consultations with legal experts can help maintain compliance and promote a healthy work environment.

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This article has been updated from its original publication date of June 17 , 2024.