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Fair Labor Standards Act

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a United States federal labor law designed to ensure the rights of workers. Worker protections include ensuring that employees receive a minimum wage and time-and-a half for work exceeding 40 hours within a week. The act also prohibits child labor.

The FLSA regulates interstate commerce employment, the employment of any enterprise engaged in interstate commerce or the production of goods for commerce. Businesses qualify for the category of commerce if they make $500,000 or greater in business per year. Once qualifying as commerce, a business is subject to the regulations.

The FLSA was originally drafted by Senator Hugo Black in 1938. Employers fought the initial draft of the act because it mandated a 30-hour work week. The act was quickly revised to stipulate 40-hour work weeks with 8-hour days as the standard, along with the provision of time and a half for overtime. The revision also added protection for minors from dangerous work as well as work that interferes with their schooling. Further revisions better defined the work time an employee can expect to be paid for and mandated equal pay for equal work and minimum wage increases.

The FLSA is an important piece of legislation for the rights it protects. For regulatory compliance, it's important that employers understand what's required of them in the many rules for the treatment of employees.

This was last updated in September 2017

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