Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): employment law

Before you start working in United States, you have to get a thorough understanding of the employment and labor law of United States. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) will help you know your rights and liabilities and resultantly you will not be trapped by any unforeseen trouble during your job or work. Knowing the law is very important for all prospective employees and labor for the purpose of making any defense in any future problem because, at the end, ignorance to law is no excuse.

 Fair Labor Standards Act Definition

Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 is a very crucial statute for the existing and the prospective employees and labor in the United States. This is a federal law, so doesn’t matter which state you are going to start work in, first know what Fair Labor Standards Act says about your rights and liabilities. FLSA basically states minimum standards regarding various issues related to employment and labor law which include wages, working hours, eligibility criteria and many others.

Scope of Fair Labor Standards Act in employment and labor law

As aforesaid it is a federal law so it extends to all states of United States. As far as kinds of employment is concerned, again it extends to all kinds of labor and employment. It includes private and government employment, part time and full time employment, monthly wages and overtime wages and other employment issues of all who are engaged in commerce or in production of goods for commerce.

Do you need an employment and labor lawyer?

Generally speaking, a layman cannot understand the law and statutes just like a lawyer can. Same is the case with the employment and labor law. But you don’t need an employment and labor lawyer until and unless you need to be represented in any court for any employment issue. For starting work, you can yourself read and understand the Fair Labor Standards Act provisions. It will help you secure your rights as an employee. You can find a detailed study on Fair Labor Standards Act here.

Salient Features of Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938

Following are four prominent features of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938:


FSLA discusses three wages under three heads: minimum pay, overtime wage, and equal pay. Firstly it provides standards for the minimum wage per hour which an employer should offer to his employee. Engaging an employee with below this minimum pay limit will constitute an act of misconduct. Secondly it states that an hour of work exceeding 40 work hours per week will amount to overtime and it will be paid by the employer on the basis of one and a half of what that employee gets as his regular wage per hour. Thirdly, it states that the pay standards will be free of any gender discrimination. Men and women will be paid equally as far as their job responsibilities and skill level are same.


It occupies a crucial place in the employment and labor law. Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 provides complete guidelines of recordkeeping for the employers. It is obligatory for the employers to keep full record of personal information, work records, wage details and other information in prescribed form so that there may arise minimum count of conflicts.

Child Labor

FSLA is also the primary statute which regulates the child labor laws. It provides exhaustive analysis on all issues of child labor. The employment and labor law exhibits a complete new picture when it comes to child labor. The authority dealing with and deciding the matters of younger labor cannot be the same as it is for the other labor. FSLA gives different standards for agricultural and non-agricultural child labor.


There are few general conditions the fulfillment of which makes certain class of employees subject to this law, while others are excluded from the sphere of its jurisdiction. This class of employees who are not subject to Fair Labor Standards Act is called exempted one. FSLA clearly states which class or classes of employees are exempt from which aspects of this Act. FSLA Exempt is a defense made by the employer that a specific employee or a class of employees is not entitled to the minimum wage or overtime wage or any other standard set by this Act. The simplest example of FLSA Exempt is an independent contractor and a volunteer. They cannot claim the standards of wage or overtime as set by FLSA.

Fair Labor Standards Act Overtime

Overtime employment is the core area of focus in Fair Labor Standards Act. It provides that all employees whose work hours exceed from 40 in a seven days week, he/ she will be paid on the basis of time-and-a-half rule. Fair Labor Standards Act prescribes a well defined record keeping system. The State Human Resources Division (HR) has authority to verify your attendance on the worksheet. So, any employee who is aggrieved of any his/her right regarding payment of wages for overtime employment, he/she may approach the State HR Classification and Compensation. The said authority will review his/her case and if it is verified, the compensation as justified by law will be provided.

Fair Labor Standards Act (Child Labor)

Child labor is another main focus of Fair Labor Standards Act. There are provisions in this Act stating about oppressive child labor, empowering Children’s Bureau with regard to enforcement of child labor law provisions, and some exemptions which come under child labor law. The biggest relief about child labor in Fair Labor Standards Act is vesting administration of child labor laws in Children’s Bureau. It explicitly provides that the Children’s Bureau is not only responsible for the administration of the child labor law but also to enforce it. In the exercise of its administrative and enforcement powers, the Children’s Bureau holds all the inspection and investigations in child labor cases.

Child Labor and Minimum Wage Provisions

As per Fair Labor Standards Act, the minimum wage provisions apply regardless of the age. It means that according to this Act, the child labor is supposed to get the same wages which other labor gets according to their work hours. It produces a fuss in the employment and labor law because there is a considerable gap between the experienced labor and child labor giving consideration to the proficiency in the work. The same wage standards will surely dampen down the engagement of child labor which may harm the society adjustments.

FLSA Provisions with Ambiguity

Fair Labor Standards Act clearly provides how the overtime hour wage will be calculated. It is one and a one-half of the regular wage which that employ gets for his regular work hour. The ambiguity which arises in this provision is what is the regular work hour wage? Though the Act has provided the minimum wage standards, but different employers have distinctive wage standards. So, in the enforcement of these labor laws is what the regular wage rate is?

2020 Main Changes in FLSA Regulations

The minimum wage limit was revised as $684 per week to the salary exempt employees. Likewise, different aspects of the wage rate of overtime is also not the same. The final rule with regard to the joint employer is also different now in 2020. The test of joint employer is now comprised of two different scenarios. The Department of Labor (DOL) has published all these changes on its official website.

All the employers and the employees must be informed of all these updates so that their monetary interests may not be superseded.  

Benefits of Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938

As apparent from its name, it sets some standards for the employers and the employees in private and public sector. With the implementation of this Act, there can be no exploit of labor in any sector. The minimum standards of wages and work hours set by this Act are very helpful in regulating the employment issues. In other words, this Act actually safeguards the interests of employees. It makes their employers comply with fair standards provided thereby. The absence of this source of employment and labor law would result excess of employment conflicts and litigation.

How FLSA Works?

Now, after having a thorough understanding of what FLSA is and what core areas it deals with, we move to the question how FLSA actually works? We know that it provides a detailed prescribed manner on recordkeeping. The worksheets of employees have comprehensive detail on following questions:

  • What is the exact number of work hours of the employee?
  • What hours are not paid hours?
  • How many hours are overtime hours?
  • Does the employee come under the head of child labor?
  • On what date and hour the employee started his work?
  • When his wage becomes due?

The employers are under obligation to keep full details of their employees. So FLSA builds a protective shield around the interests of the employees. To infringe their rights is not so easy. In case any conflict arises between the employer and the employee, it secures the interests of the employee. The employee can approach the State HR Classification and Compensation with the copy of that record.

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