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What is the Fair Labor Standards Act?

You may have heard of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which contains a series of federal laws, but not know exactly what it entails. While state laws account for many labor regulations, the FLSA sets standards on a federal level.

The FLSA sets minimum standards for a variety of issues surrounding labor and working conditions. Learning the basics of the FLSA will help both employers and employees know what's legally required of them. 

The FLSA was enacted in 1938, and has gone through several changes over the years. The text of the FLSA is available online. While many may find it too long and complex to learn in depth, it is beneficial to understand some of the main points of the law.

Fair wages

The FLSA is the most important federal law related to wage and hour claims. Minimum wage, overtime and certain leave standards are some of the areas established by the FLSA. The act also created the standard 40-hour workweek.

Exempt vs. nonexempt employees

Exempt employees may not be subject to all of the rules and protections in the FLSA. For example, exempt employees can work more than 40 hours per week and would not be protected by the same overtime and wage requirements as nonexempt employees. Exempt employment exists in a variety of industries and a variety of roles. Whether you are classified as an exempt or nonexempt employee mostly depends on your job duties.

While nonexempt employees are often paid hourly, many are salaried employees as well. Whether they are hourly, salaried or otherwise, nonexempt employees are still protected by the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the FLSA.

Equal pay

The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963 as an amendment to the FLSA, and made it illegal for employers to pay employees less based on their gender. While we have certainly seen issues with equal pay for equal work even with the FLSA, the Equal Pay Act was a first step to removing gender bias in regards to employment.

These are just a few important points to be aware of in relation to the FLSA. Knowing the basics of the FLSA can help you understand your rights and obligations as an employee or employer.


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