The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Minimum Wage, Overtime, Recordkeeping, Child Labor

Workers with clipboard talking in distribution warehouse
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The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a United States Federal law that was enacted in 1938. It protects workers by setting standards for minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth labor.

Who is Covered by the FLSA?

This law covers full-time and part-time workers in the private sector and federal, state, and local governments. The law may apply to you because of the type of company or organization for which you work, known as "enterprise coverage" or the kind of work you perform known as "individual coverage."

If you are one of two or more employees working for an enterprise, for example, a business or organization that has annual sales or does business of at least $500,000, you are protected by the FLSA under the provision for enterprise coverage.

You are also covered by this law if you work for a school or preschool, a government agency, or a hospital or a business that provides medical or nursing care for residents.

Don't work for an enterprise as described above? You may still be protected by the FLSA under individual coverage. If your work regularly involves interstate commerce including, producing goods that are shipped out of state, talking by phone to people in other states, handling records of interstate transactions, traveling to another state, or even doing janitorial work in a building where goods that will be shipped out-of-state are produced. Domestic service workers are also protected by the FLSA.

Minimum Wage

All workers, except those who are considered by the FLSA to be exempt, must be paid a national minimum wage established by the U.S. Congress. As of July 24, 2009, that wage is $7.25 per hour. Some states have set their own minimum wage. The employer must pay whichever wage—Federal or state—is higher.

Employers may pay workers who receive at least $30 per month in tips a minimum wage of $2.13 an hour.

Overtime Pay

Employers must give overtime pay to non-exempt employees who work over 40 hours per week. They must pay these workers at a rate of at least time and half of their regular rate. 

For example, if a worker who earns the minimum wage of $7.25 works 44 hours in one week, he or she must be paid for an additional 6 hours of work (1.5 x 4 hours). An employee who must work on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday does not qualify for overtime pay, as long as this schedule does not push one over the limit of 40 hours of work per week.

Recordkeeping

The FLSA sets standards for the type of information employers must maintain about their workers. They are required to keep records that must contain the following information:

  • Employee's full name and social security number.
  • Address, including zip code.
  • Birthdate, if younger than 19.
  • Sex and occupation.
  • Time and day of the week when employee's workweek begins.
  • Hours worked each day.
  • Total hours worked each workweek.
  • Basis on which employee's wages are paid (i.e., amount per hour, amount per week, amount per item produced)
  • 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.

Child Labor Standards

Child labor laws protect the rights of those under age 18. These provisions limit the number of hours children may work and what they may do. For more information, see "Teens and Work: Rules and Regulations."

More About the FLSA

If you'd like to learn more about the Fair Labor Standards Act, see "Compliance Assistance — The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)." If you think your employer is violating the FLSA, contact your local district office of the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment Standards Administration.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information on this website is for guidance, ideas, and assistance only. Dawn Rosenberg McKay makes every effort to offer accurate advice and information on this site. She is not, however, an attorney, and the content on the site is not to be construed as legal advice. Employment laws and regulations vary by location, so check government resources or legal counsel when in doubt about your particular situation.

Article Sources

  1. U.S. Department of Labor. "Wages and the Fair Labor Standards Act," Accessed Dec. 19, 2019.

  2. U.S. Department of Labor. "Fact Sheet #14: Coverage Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)," Accessed Dec. 19, 2019.

  3. U.S. Department of Labor. "Minimum Wage," Accessed Dec. 19, 2019.

  4. U.S. Department of Labor. "Fact Sheet #15: Tipped Employees Under the Fair Labor Standards Act," Accessed Dec. 19, 2019.

  5. U.S. Department of Labor. "Final Rule: Regular Rate under the Fair Labor Standards Act," Accessed Dec. 19, 2019.

  6. U.S. Department of Labor. "Overtime Pay," Accessed Dec. 19, 2019.

  7. U.S. Department of Labor. "Recordkeeping and Reporting," Accessed Dec. 19, 2019.