Employers bear the responsibility of protecting the rights of their employees, which is why it is imperative to understand labor laws and the rights of workers. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal act that outlines the rights of employees in matters pertaining to overtime, minimum wage, child labor standards and more. Understanding the FLSA is important for any employer that hopes to prevent lawsuits and minimize the risk of financial loss.
In addition to outlining the rights of employees, the FLSA also establishes what actions count as working. For example, driving to work does not count as work, which means the wage and hour laws outlined in the FLSA would not apply for that time. The state of California also has laws that shield the interests of employees.
Who is an exempt employee?
The wage laws outlined in the FLSA are applicable to non-exempt employees, which are often those who work for hourly wages. Exempt employees are typically executives, lawyers, doctors, many types of professionals, entertainers, babysitters, professional drivers and those working in jobs that require an advanced degree. Exempt employees are not eligible for overtime pay, minimum wage, or other fair wage standards and protections provided by the FLSA to non-exempt employees.
In addition to the required minimum wage for non-exempt employees, employers must also pay overtime for any additional hours worked over the standard 40 hours per week. California state law expands on overtime pay rights and when such rights apply. For example, workers can qualify for overtime pay in California after working eight hours in a single shift or for any time worked on the seventh consecutive day within a single week.
Overtime pay should be one and a half times the regular hourly rate, but California has additional rules for overtime wages as well. Workers should receive twice their standard hourly pay when they work more than 12 hours in one shift or when they work more than eight hours on their seventh consecutive day of work.
Failure to pay an employee as required by overtime laws could result in complications for the employer. You will benefit from ensuring that all of your exempt employees are in the appropriate categories, as well as carefully tracking the hourly and overtime pay of each non-exempt employee.
Defending against a claim
Disputes regarding wage and hour practices at your California company can result in a legal claim that may cost your business a significant amount of time and resources. An appropriate defense against these claims is critical, as is the prevention of problems through a thorough understanding of how you can implement fair practices at every level of your operations.