"A fair day's wage for a fair day's work: it is as just a demand as governed men ever made of governing. It is the everlasting right of man." Thomas Carlyle, Scottish Author and Philosopher

"If a man or a woman puts in an honest day's work, they should be able to earn a living wage." Richard J. Codey, Politician

"It is but equity...that they who feed, clothe and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labor as to be themselves tolerably well fed, clothed and lodged." Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776

"Wages are determined by the bitter struggle between capitalist and worker." Karl Marx, German political and economic philosopher

Minimum Wages Owed?

“Honest Wages for an Honest Day’s Work!”

Are you sure you are being fully paid for all wages owed to you?

Minimum Wages: General

Your State’s Minimum Wage Rate?

Subminimum Wages and Special Certification Exemptions

The Youth ‘Opportunity Wage’

Minimum Wage Poster (Federal)

Are you covered by the federal wage Law?

Does your employer owe you wages?

Do you believe you have a wage and hour claim?

Minimum Wages

The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA” or Act) requires that a minimum wage be paid to covered em­ployees for all hours that the employees are “suffered or permitted to work.” Employers are free to pay a regular rate of pay higher than the minimum wage.

Unless specifically exempted, the FLSA requires employers to pay covered employees a minimum wage of not less than $7.25 per hour, effective July 24, 2009.  However, be aware that certain state and local governments may require your employer to pay a higher minimum wage than that mandated by the FLSA. In those cases, the state law, if more favorable to you as an employee, governs your employer’s financial obligation to pay a higher minimum wage rate to you.

Under the FLSA, employers are not required to pay employees on an hourly basis merely because the statute specifies a minimum wage on this basis. Employees may be paid on an hourly, salaried, commission, monthly, piecework or any other basis, as long as pay covering each workweek equals or exceeds the FLSA minimum wage standard (i.e., $7.25/hr). Minimum wages do not have to be paid fully in cash (board, lodging or other facilities, under certain prescribed circumstances, can also constitute a part of wages).

In determining a non-exempt employee’s regular rate of pay under the FLSA, the following examples of compensation are includable toward an employee’s minimum wage:

  • on-call pay;
  • bonuses promised for accuracy of work, good attendance, continuation of the employment relationship, incentive, production or quality;
  • contest prizes;
  • employee lunch or meal expenses paid by the employer, unless the expense is incurred on the employer’s behalf or for the employer’s benefit;
  • salaries;
  • sick leave;
  • traveling expenses for going to and from work, if they are paid by the employer, unless the expenses are incurred on the employer’s behalf or for the employer’s benefit;
  • Also, compensation to workers may take the form of employer contributions to employee flexible benefit plans, which are also known as “cafeteria” plans.

Below are examples of compensation not includable toward an employee’s regular rate of pay:

  • absence pay for infrequent or unpredictable absences, such as vacation, illness, bereavement, disaster relief payments or jury leave;
  • discretionary bonuses;
  • holiday pay, if it is equivalent to regular earnings;
  • premium pay such as time compensated at time and one-half;
  • idle time beyond the control of the employer due to machinery breakdown, supplies failing to arrive or weather conditions making it impossible to work;
  • severance pay;
  • pension, profit sharing, thrift and savings plan payments qualifying under Department Of Labor’s administrative regula­tions;
  • certain stock option compensation provided under an employer plan that meets certain statutory requirements;
  • call-back premium pay;
  • travel expenses, if business trips are taken by the employee;
  • show-up or reporting pay (paying a minimum amount for coming to work) to the extent pay exceeded hours worked;
  • weekly overtime pay, in any amount;
  • health and welfare fund benefits received by the employee;
  • death benefits;
  • employer-paid disability benefits, hospitalization, medical care, retirement benefits, workers’ com­pensation or other employer-paid health and welfare contributions, including all insurance premi­ums;
  • reasonable uniform allowances;
  • payments made to an employee for periods of absence due to the use of accrued compensatory time;
  • meal expenses (reimbursements for meal advances when employees worked 24-hour shifts.

Your State’s Minimum Wage Rate?

Do you know the specific minimum wage rate for your state? If you would like to know and learn more about your state’s specific minimum wage and overtime laws go to the “State” Law category found under the “Are You Covered?” section located on the upper right-side of this webpage.

Subminimum Wages and Special Certification Exemptions

Learners, student-learners, messengers, apprentices, handicapped workers, patient workers and full-time students of institutions of higher learning may be employed at subminimum rates if the administrator of the Wage and Hour Division finds that lower rates are necessary to prevent the curtailment of their employment opportuni­ties.

Special certificates must be obtained from the Wage and Hour Division for workers to be employed at sub- minimum rates (except for workers qualifying for the youth “opportunity wage”). Certificates are not issued if lower wage rates curtail full-time job opportunities for others in the work force.

Employment of Students at Subminimum Wages

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) contains several sets of provisions permitting the employment of stu­dents, under special Labor Department certificates, at wages below the prevailing federal minimum wage rate.

Certain institutions of higher education that are permitted by regulation to employ their own students at subminimum wages include schools above the secondary level, such as colleges, universities, junior colleges, and professional schools of engineering, law, library science, social work, and so forth, that are recog­nized by a national accrediting agency or association.

Apprentices’ and Learners’ Subminimum Wages

DOL has the authority to issue special certificates to employers authorizing the employment of apprentices in “skilled trades” at subminimum wages. The DOL also has the authority to provide for the employment of learners under special subminimum wage certificates. A learner is a worker “who is being trained for an occupation, which is not customarily recognized as an apprentice- able trade, for which skill, dexterity and judgment must be learned and who, when initially employed produces little or nothing of value”.

Messengers’ Subminimum Wages

Employers may petition the Department of Labor (DOL) to employ at subminimum wage rates messengers who deliver letters and messages. However, special certificates for messengers are available only to those firms whose principal business is making such deliveries.

Employment of Workers With Disabilities Under Special Certificates

Qualifying employers must obtain from DOL operating certificates for employing disabled workers at subminimum wages.  The statute allows such subminimum wages only where necessary to prevent curtailment of opportunities of employment of such individuals.

Employers that employ workers under special minimum wage certificates must maintain certain records and have these records available for inspection. The records that must be maintained include: verification of the workers’ disabilities; evidence of the productivity of each disabled worker; the prevailing wages paid to non-disabled workers who perform the same type of work in the vicinity as that performed by the workers under the certificate; production standards for non-disabled workers for each job performed by workers with disabilities; and all records required under the regulations.

The Youth ‘Opportunity Wage’

The FLSA allows employers to pay employees under 20 years of age an “opportunity wage” of $4.25 per hour for the first 90 days of their employment. The Department Of Labor has stated that this 90-day eligibility period is defined as “90 consecutive calendar days beginning with the first day of work for an employer” and that it is not affected by the number of days during which the young employee actually performs work for the employer.

Where a state or local law requires a higher minimum wage than $4.25 per hour without making an exception for workers under 20 years of age, the higher state or local minimum wage standard would apply. If an employee reaches age 20 before the eligibility period ends, his or her rate of pay must be raised to at least the applicable minimum wage.

Employers are not allowed to displace employees for the purpose of hiring workers at the lower rate of pay, or make partial displacements by reducing hours, wages or employment benefits. Hiring employees under 20 years of age and then discharging them at the end of the 90-day eligibility period in order to hire other sub-minimum wage workers is illegal.

Are you covered by the federal wage Law?

For starters, to determine if you maybe covered by the Fair Labor Standard Act, you are encouraged to take the three minute "Step 1: Wage Law Test" found on the upper right-hand side of this webpage.

Does your employer owe you wages?

To determine if your employer may owe you wages under the Fair Labor Standard Act, take the two minute "Step 2: Wage Owed Test" found on the upper right-hand side of this webpage.

Do you believe you have a wage and hour claim?

If you believe that your existing or former employer may have violated your legal rights as an employee by failing to pay you "honest wages for an honest day's work" please feel free to contact the law firm of JonesSatreWeimer for a free consultation (Need a lawyer?).