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FEDERAL MINIMUM WAGE AND OVERTIME PAY STANDARDS
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), as amended, requires that most employees in the U.S. be paid a minimum hourly wage and premium overtime pay after 40 hours in a workweek.
Over 80 million nonsupervisory employees are subject to the minimum wage; 69.7 million are in the private sector and 10.9 million are employed in the public sector.
On April 1, 1991, the minimum wage increased from $3.80 an hour to $4.25 an hour (some states and the District of Columbia have higher minimum wages; those wages prevail over the Federal minimum wage).
Employees covered by the FLSA generally are entitled to overtime pay for all hours worked over 40 in one workweek. Overtime pay must equal at least one and one-half times an employee's regular rate of pay. There is no limit to the number of hours per day or days per week an adult employee may be required to work.
Covered employees are:
-- employees engaged in interstate commerce or in the production of goods for interstate commerce (i.e., goods that travel across state lines), regardless of the employer's annual volume of business;
-- employees who work for enterprises that have an annual gross volume of sales made or business done of over $500,000;
-- employees of hospitals, residential facilities that care for those who are physically or mentally ill or disabled, or aged, schools for children who are mentally or physically disabled or gifted, pre- schools, elementary and secondary schools, and institutions of higher education regardless of the annual volume of business;
-- employees of public agencies.
Certain executive, administrative and professional employees and outside salespeople are exempt from both the minimum wage and overtime pay standards:
-- employees of certain seasonal amusement or recreational establishments, employees of certain small newspapers, switchboard operators of small telephone companies, seamen employed on foreign vessels, and employees engaged in fishing operations;
-- casual babysitters and persons employed as companions to the elderly or infirm.
Most farmworkers do not have to be paid overtime but must be paid at least the minimum wage for all hours worked.
Certain full-time students, students in vocational education programs, and workers with disabilities may be paid less than the minimum wage if employers obtain special certificates from the Department of Labor.
A training wage of $3.62 per hour, or 85 per cent of the applicable minimum wage, whichever is greater, may be paid to most employees under 20 years for up to 90 days under certain conditions. Individuals may be employed at this training wage for a second 90-day period by a different employer if certain additional requirements are met. No individual may be employed at the training wage, in any number of jobs, for more than a total of 180 days. Employers may not displace regular employees in order to hire those eligible for the training wage.
The training wage provisions expire March 31, 1993.
A tipped employee is one who regularly receives more than $30 a month in tips. Tips received by such employees may be counted as wages up to 50 per cent of the minimum wage. The minimum cash wage that employers must pay (from their own pockets) to tipped employees is $2.125 per hour. If an employee's hourly tip earnings (averaged weekly) added to this hourly wage do not equal the minimum wage, the employer is responsible for paying the balance.
The Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor administers and enforces the FLSA and has the authority to supervise voluntary payment of back wages but cannot order such payment if the employer refuses to pay. Such matters fall under the jurisdiction of the courts and individuals have private right under Section 16(b) of the FLSA to file suit to recover back wages as well as court costs and reasonable attorney fees.
For more information...
Contact the nearest office of the Wage and Hour Division, listed in most telephone directories under U.S. Government, Department of Labor, Employment Standards Administration.
This is one of a series of fact sheets highlighting U.S. Department of Labor Programs. It is intended as a general description only and does not carry the force of legal opinion.
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