Iowa Wage Laws

Understanding Iowa wage and hour laws can be difficult. Even employers aren't always aware of the ins and outs of the Federal Labor Standards Act or the individual state laws in Iowa pertaining to employer-employee relations. In order to make sure your rights are protected, you may need the assistance of an experienced Iowa employment attorney.

What Is the Minimum Wage Requirement in Iowa?

Iowa's minimum wage is the same as the federal minimum wage -- $7.25 an hour. For tipped employees, the minimum wage is $4.35 an hour if your tips add up to more than $30 a month. If your tips and wages do not add up to $7.25 an hour, then the employer is required to make up the difference.

For the first 90 days of employment, an employer is only required to pay you $6.35. This is known as an "initial employment wage." It is also known as the "federal training wage." To learn more about minimum wages, you can call the Wage and Hour Department at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Does an Employer Have to Give Employees Breaks or Meal Periods?

Employers are not required to provide adult employees breaks or meal periods; however, the employer can require that employees remain on the business premises while they are taking a break. There are some exceptions, which are listed below:

  • Toilet breaks must be allowed.
  • A 30-minute break must be given to employees that are 16 years old or younger and who have worked five hours.
  • Truck drivers are covered by federal and Iowa Department of Transportation regulations.
  • Union employees are covered under other regulations and if those breaks are not allowed, they should contact their union representative.

How Many Hours Can My Iowa Employer Make Me Work in One Day?

For most employees, there is no limit as to the number of hours you can work in one day. There may be an employment contract, however, that says otherwise. Most employers give breaks to employees simply due to safety concerns. Other employees, such as truck drivers, are bound by federal law when it comes to how long they can drive in one day. In addition, there are limits as to how long youths under the age of 16 can work in one day.

Is Iowa an "At Will" Employment State?

Yes. This means that an employer can lay off or fire an employee without cause, although there are discrimination and retaliation events that do not count in this. An employee is also free to quit at any time without providing a reason why. If you feel as though your employer has terminated you for one of the following reasons, you may have a legal action against him or her:

  • If you were fired on the basis of race, sex, age, religion, national origin, color, pregnancy or disability
  • If you were fired for "whistleblower" actions on your part or the reporting of wrongdoing
  • If you were fired against the terms of your employment contract
  • If you were fired because you tried to comply with specific regulations, such as those pertaining to the health codes in a restaurant

When Must My Final Paycheck Be Available to Me?

Your final wages must be paid by the next regular payday. Your employer is not obligated to pay you for accrued vacation, holiday or sick pay, either, unless the company's police and procedures says so. An employer cannot mail a paycheck to you unless you have previously filed a form stating that it is acceptable to mail your check. A paystub, however, may be mailed to you without any type of consent.

As you can see, the regulations and laws that govern Iowa employers and employees are quite complex. Employees do have rights under these laws and a violation of those rights can end up with both parties in a civil lawsuit. An experienced employment attorney can provide a great deal more information on how to protect your rights as an employee in Iowa.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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