Federal Labor Act

The United States Department of Labor enforces the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to legislate guidelines pertaining to minimum wage, overtime pay, youth employment and recordkeeping. These categories are set according to the Labor Department’s definition for hours worked. The FLSA has been designed to “protect and enhance the welfare of the nation’s workforce.”

Hours Worked

Workers are compensated per hours worked. The FLSA defines work as “all time during which an employee is necessarily required to be on the employer’s premises.” Meaning, you are to be compensated for all time spent at workplace, including when you are “on call” at the location. Employees also get paid for “waiting time,” when they are not actually performing an assignment, but remain idle until tasks are doled out.

The FLSA says that you may be paid for 20-minute rest periods. However, 30-minute breaks for meals are not payable time for hours worked.

Minimum Wage

You are paid at least the minimum wage for up to 40 hours worked per week. The Fair Labor Standards Act set minimum wages at $7.25 per hour, as of July 24, 2009. State law also carries jurisdiction to set minimum wages; and the Department of Labor indicates that you are entitled to earn the higher amount between the state and federal mandates.

Overtime Pay 

Work that exceeds 40 hours per week, for any 7-day / 168 hour time period, is defined as overtime. Overtime pay is calculated at a rate that is at least one and one half times that of your regular wages. There are no set time limits in terms of work schedule for employees that are at, or over the age of 16.

Youth Employment

Child labor laws are enacted to safeguard the educational opportunities and general well being of our nation’s minors. This legislation sets limits according to age and the type of work. 16 and 17-year-olds are allowed to have nonhazardous occupations for unlimited amounts of time. Hazardous activity is related to operating heavy machinery and power-driven hoists.

14 and 15-year-old youngsters are generally limited to employment within the recreational sector. These youth cannot work during school hours and are limited to 18-hour workweeks when school is in session. These 18-hour workweeks are extended to 40-hour maximums when school is out. 14 and 15-year-olds cannot be scheduled to work before 7 a.m.

13-year olds and younger may work for their parents within nonhazardous roles. Children can work as performers, deliver newspapers, babysit and complete domestic chores for pay at any age.


Federal law requires that your employer post the Fair Labor Standards Act at the job site. Employers keep records pertaining to hours worked and wages paid out to employees. The FLSA orders employers to preserve payroll records for at least three years.