Wage Laws: FAQ

When is Overtime Pay Due?

For covered, nonexempt employees, the FLSA requires overtime pay at a rate of not less than one and one-half times an employee's regular rate of pay after 40 hours of work in a workweek. Some exceptions to the 40 hours per week standard apply under special circumstances to police officers and fire fighters employed by public agencies and to employees of hospitals and nursing homes. Some states have also enacted overtime laws. Where an employee is subject to both the state and Federal overtime laws, the employee is entitled to overtime according to the higher standard (i.e., the standard that will provide the higher rate of pay).  For example, in California, overtime is due after 40 hours of work or after 8 hours of work per day.

When Must Break And Meal Periods Be Given?

The FLSA does not require breaks or meal periods be given to workers. Some states may have requirements for breaks or meal periods. If you work in a state which does not require breaks or meal periods, these benefits are a matter of agreement between the employer and the employee (or the employee's representative).

When Are Pay Raises Required?

Pay raises are generally a matter of agreement between an employer and employee (or the employee's representative). Pay raises to amounts above the Federal minimum wage are not required by the FLSA.

How Is Vacation Pay, Sick Pay, And Holiday Pay Computed And When Is Such Pay Due?

The FLSA does not require payment for time not worked, such as vacations, sick leave or holidays (Federal or otherwise). These benefits are matters of agreement between an employer and an employee (or the employee's representative).

What happens in an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor?

WHD typically begins by verifying that your business is in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act, which normally involves examining the business’s practices through current and former employee interviews, as well as through records regarding hours and wages. . 

What happens if the Wage and Hour Division ("WHD") of the U.S. Department of Labor finds that my business has violated a law that it enforces?

WHD will make every attempt to resolve violations that it found during its investigation by entering into an agreement with your business to correct the violations and pay back wages or overtime that is owed to employees. However, if settlement is unsuccessful, an employee may file suit against your business to recover wages, and/or the Secretary of Labor can file suit on behalf of employees for lost wages and other damages.

Will I receive any advance notice if my company is being investigated by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor?

Maybe. Many times, an investigator will notify an employer that WHD is opening an investigation. Other times, because the investigator wants to observe normal business operations and develop facts quickly, WHD will not give an employer any advance notice of an investigation. In any case, WHD is not required to given an employer advance notice of an investigation.

What does an investigation of an employer by the Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) of the U.S. Department of Labor involve?

First, WHD investigators will determine whether an employer is subject to the federal laws that the WHD enforces. If the employer is subject to those laws, then the investigator will verify that workers are being employed and paid in accordance with the federal laws that the WHD enforces. 

If a complaint has been made about my company to the Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) of the U.S. Department of Labor, will I know?

WHD cannot disclose who has made a complaint, the content of the complaint, or the fact that a complaint was even made. As a result, WHD typically will not tell you the reason for opening an investigation into your company.

How do I receive the results of an investigation of my business by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor?

Once WHD has completed its investigation, the investigator will meet with the business’s officials and disclose any violations that were found, as well as the actions needed to correct those violations. 

What laws does the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor enforce?

The Wage and Hour Division enforces several federal laws, including the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act.

Can the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor investigate my business if no complaint has been made?

Yes. WHD targets certain types of businesses for investigations, such as low-wage industries that have higher rates of noncompliance with applicable laws, or businesses located within a certain geographic region.

Can I be represented by an attorney during an investigation of my business by the Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) of the U.S. Department of Labor?

Yes. You have the right to have your business represented by an attorney throughout the WHD investigation.

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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