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Understand Your Rights to Minimum Wage Under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act

On Behalf of | Apr 24, 2014 | Articles, Employment Litigation

The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act governs the employee—employer relationship, ensuring that employees have certain rights. These rights mainly refer to the level of compensation as well as the number of hours worked.

Understanding the Minimum Wage

One of the key issues the FLSA governs is the minimum wage, which is the minimum compensation an employee can receive. Currently, the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, established in 2009 at a federal level. However, in some states, you are entitled to a higher minimum wage, as established by state law. In such cases, an employer has to pay you the higher minimum wage.

Certain employers are not subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act—such as small farms—in which case they must pay their employees the minimum wage dictated by state law, regardless of whether it is higher or lower than the federal minimum wage.

As the FSLA does not impose a certain payment system, employers can choose to pay their workers using any measurement they choose, as long as their total pay divided by the number of hours they worked averages out to the minimum wage or higher.

With so many nuances and exceptions, some employers can make mistakes, whether on purpose or accidental. For this reason, it’s a marvelous idea to check your employer’s math skills to make sure you are getting paid fairly.

So, for example, if you are being paid on an hourly basis, you must be compensated for every hour you work with at least the minimum wage. In other words, you can’t be paid less than minimum wage for some of the hours you worked and more for the others. In this case, averages do not apply.

On the other hand, if you are being paid via commissions or piece rates, averages do apply as you have to take the total number of hours you worked and divide it into the total earnings you received, and the resulting average per hour must be equal to or exceed the minimum wage.

If you are earning a fixed salary, the calculation is simple: simply divide your salary over the pay period by the number of hours you worked in that pay period. Again, the average per hour should be equal to or greater than the minimum wage.

Payment Forms

The FLSA stipulates that your compensation should be in some monetary form or something that can easily be turned into cash or any other legal form of payment, such as food and shelter. This means that the company you work for cannot use coupons to their own stores, for example, as payment, nor do discounts granted by an employer constitute compensation that is counted towards the minimum wage.

Getting Paid for Time Off

The FLSA does not stipulate that employers have to pay employees for any time spent away from work, such as for vacations, medical leave, holidays and so on and so forth. In other words, the act stipulates that employers only have to pay their workers when they are working.

However, most companies offer some form of paid leave to employees for vacations. Additionally, some states have laws that obligate employers to offer paid leave to employees for things such as medical leave, jury duty, and voting.

Understanding how minimum wage works is essential to make sure you are being paid in accordance to the law. If you suspect your employer might be trying to save money by bending the rules and hurting you in the process, the best option is to contact the employment lawyers at Makarem & Associates and we will review your case at no cost. Call Makarem & Associates at 800-610-9646 or email us at [email protected].