Hours of Work laws & compensation compliance analysis

Hours of Work: What you need to know

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that a minimum wage be paid for all hours an employee is “suffered or permitted” to work and that an overtime wage be paid for all hours “worked” over 40 in a week. The FLSA does not specifically define “hours worked” or place a limit on the number of hours an employee may work; it requires only that overtime be paid for any hours worked over 40. Generally speaking, work time includes all time that employees spend engaged in the principal activities that they are employed to perform. Hours worked also includes waiting time, travel time, other than time spent commuting to and from the employee’s regular place of work; breaks or meal periods that are less than 20 minutes long; and time the employee is required to spend in training, at seminars, or in meetings. Hours worked for purposes of the FLSA do not include waiting time, time spent on call, or time when an employee is required to carry a pager or cell phone, provided the employee is otherwise free to effectively use the time for his or her own personal purposes. The FLSA does not obligate employers to pay employees for holidays, vacation, or sick days.
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Check state law requirements. Many states have laws on hours of work that are more strict than federal requirements. Employers must follow the law that is most favorable to the employee.
The needs of businesses, especially in the retail, food services, and hospitality industries, change from week to week. Therefore, it has benefited businesses to be able to schedule shifts and change those schedules without providing much notice to employees. Companies want their workers to be flexible and available when they're needed. ...

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