The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a critical piece of legislation in the United States, first enacted in 1938. Its purpose is to protect the rights of workers by establishing essential standards for employment. The FLSA is administered and enforced by the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the United States Department of Labor (DOL).
Minimum wage, as stipulated by the FLSA, is the lowest hourly wage employers must pay their non-exempt employees. The wage amount is subject to change and is periodically adjusted for inflation and other economic factors. As of September 2021, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, but many states have enacted higher minimum wage rates, in which case employers must pay the higher rate.
Overtime pay is another crucial aspect of the FLSA. Under the Act, eligible employees are entitled to receive one and a half times their regular pay rate for any hours worked beyond 40 hours in a single workweek. However, not all employees are eligible for overtime pay. Exemptions apply to some executive, administrative, professional, and other workers who meet specific criteria outlined by the DOL.
Child labor provisions under the FLSA are designed to protect the well-being and educational opportunities of minors. The Act sets limits on the hours and types of work that youth under 18 years of age can perform. For example, employees under 16 cannot work during school hours, and those under 18 are prohibited from working in hazardous occupations.
The FLSA has significantly impacted the American workforce since its introduction. It has ensured that millions of workers receive fair wages and that children are protected from exploitation. Employers must comply with these standards to avoid penalties and fines from the DOL. Both employers and employees should be aware of the FLSA and their rights and responsibilities under the Act to ensure a fair and safe work environment for all.