Wage and Hour Laws

A law book with a gavel - Labour law

What are Wage and Hour Laws?

Wage and hour laws are laws that are set in place to protect employees and insure that they receive proper compensation for the work they do. Wage and hour concerns are governed on the federal, state, and local level. Wage and hour laws set the basic standards for pay and time worked, covering issues like:


  • Minimum wage
    • The federal law and the laws of many states set a minimum wage that is meant to protect workers from unfairly low compensation. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour; however many states and some local governments have enacted different minimum wages. Workers are entitled to whichever is highest among the federal, state, or local minimum wage.
  • Gratuity/tips
    • Under federal law an employer is allowed to pay a minimum wage of $2.13 per hour if the employee regularly earns a minimum of $30 per month in tips. The employer can do this only if this wage plus tips add up to at least the minimum wage for each hour worked. Some states and local governments have enacted gratuity specific laws and regulations.
  • Overtime
    • The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that any covered worker who exceeds 40 hours in one work week must be paid at least one and one-half times the worker’s regular rate of pay for every hour over 40. So, if an employee who typically makes $8 per hour works a 50 hour work week, that employee must be paid $12 per hour for the last 10 hours he worked that week. A number of state laws also define how and when overtime must be paid. Some state laws require overtime to be measured on a daily basis as opposed to a weekly basis. This means that if an employee in such a state works for more than 8 hours in a single day he is entitled to overtime (even if he works a total of 40 or fewer hours in a week).
  • Meal and rest breaks
    • Federal law does not require lunch or coffee breaks; however, when employers do offer rest periods of short duration (20 minutes or less), federal law considers the breaks as compensable work hours. Some state laws have requirements for the minimum length of a meal period.
  • What counts as time worked
    • “Time worked” is time you should be compensated for. What is considered to be “time worked” can vary depending on whether it is the Fair Labor Standards Act or a state or local law that applies.
  • When you must be paid
    • Generally you must be paid at least twice in each calendar mouth or bi-weekly. This depends on your state’s laws.
  • Worker classification (Contractor/ non-employees  vs. employee)
    • Employees are protected against employers who wrongfully classify them to avoid providing certain employment benefits, such as overtime pay and workers’ compensation. Learn more about Contractor Misclassification.  

If you have concerns regarding any of these issues and need legal assistance, contact Sheller P.C. for a free no obligation consultation at 800-883-2299 or Click Here to fill out a confidential inquiry form and one of our attorneys will review your case. The attorneys at Sheller, P.C. believe everyone deserves the right to seek justice. Contact us immediately as there may be a time limit for bringing your claim.

Commonly Asked Questions

-Is there a limit to the number of hours I can work in a week?

The Fair Labor Standards Act does not set a limit to the number of hours an employee may work in a week (unless the employee is a minor). However it is important to make sure you understand the hours you may work as established between you and your employer.

-Am I entitled to overtime pay?

To find out whether you are entitled to overtime pay you should follow these steps:

  1. Check whether your employer is covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act and/or your state’s wage and hour law
  2. Check whether you are considered an “exempt” or “nonexempt” employee

-If I am paid in tips, can my employer pay me less than minimum wage?

Whether your employee can pay you less than minimum wage depends on your state’s laws as well as how much money you make. Generally your wage plus tips must add up to the minimum hourly wage. If this is not the case your employer may not pay you any wage below the minimum hourly wage.

-Does my employer have to pay me for time spent on required training?

Yes. If you are required to attend a training program for work, you must be paid for that time. If you have to travel offsite to a training program, your travel time must be paid for as well.

-Can my employer require me to clock out when I take a break?

Yes however there is still information to consider. Since there are no federal laws regarding breaks, this depends on state law, the length of your break, and what you do with your break. If your state does not require a paid break then your employer does not have to pay you unless, your break lasts for less than 20 minutes or you have to work through your break.

-Can my employer pay the federal minimum wage if the state’s minimum wage is higher?

No. Generally speaking employers are required to abide by the protections of all employment laws, whether federal, state, or local. If more than one law covers a situation, the employer is required to provide that which gives the most benefit to the employee. This means the employer must pay the highest applicable minimum wage.


See also Gratuity Fees and Service Charges and Federal, State, and Local Laws and Regulations

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If you suspect improper compensation by your current or previous employer, contact attorneys at Sheller P.C. for a no obligation consultation at 800-883-2299.