As a leader in small or medium-sized business, it's likely you are already aware that United States employment law is complex. Because labor laws differ from state to state, offering compliance guidance in a short article would be an impractical proposition. However, there are certain key questions which, when you find out the answers, can help you acquire practical knowledge of the laws applicable in your state. Here are six such questions to help you with your legal research.
Under federal law, the minimum wage in the United States is currently $7.25 per hour. However, some states have their own legal minimum wage requirements. If the state minimum wage is higher than that required by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), then you must pay the minimum demanded by your state. Therefore, if you are responsible for determining salaries in your business, you should know the requirements of your state's minimum wage laws.
Here too, the federal and state laws may differ. Under the FLSA, you must pay your employees at 1.5 times their standard hourly rate for any hours over and above the threshold of 40 per week. Knowing your state law on overtime pay is essential when you are scheduling employees' shifts. You need to know when you are committing your company to overtime and how much it's going to cost.
It's not enough to know simply that you must pay overtime at 1.5 times the standard hourly rate. You also need to know what constitutes the standard rate in your state. For example, you need to know if the standard rate must include shift payments or non-discretionary bonuses for the calculation of overtime.
This is another important question to answer if you are responsible for employee schedules. Your state may require you to allow employees to take a meal break. Furthermore, the law may stipulate that more than one meal break is provided for an employee who works more than 10 consecutive hours. The law may or may not provide for meal breaks to be waived by mutual agreement between employee and employer.
In addition to meal breaks, your state may require you to allow employees rest breaks every few hours. Again, when you are putting together employee schedules , you should know the legal rest-break requirements. When you include breaks in your workforce schedules, everybody knows what they are entitled to and when.
You should also find out if state or federal labor law applies any specific scheduling restrictions to the industry in which your business is engaged. In New York, for instance, businesses in certain industries may not ask an employee to work for more than six days out of seven.
Taking time to find answers to the questions listed here, can help you to stay compliant with federal and state labor law and avoid the expense of lawsuits. Please note that any examples provided in this article are intended to be illustrative only. When determining your employees' salaries and schedules, you should understand and comply only with the law as published in official government sources.