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Over the years, workers' rights have been a point of strong consideration in political circles, with more and more laws being passed to protect workers. One such move created the FLSA, or the Fair Labor Standards Act. This is one of the principle sources from which wage and hour laws are drawn. For example, it gives some employees -— those with eligible jobs -— the right to overtime pay, which is supposed to be time and a half. It also gives a minimum wage for those employees, which is $7.25 per hour.
The states also have a chance to create their own minimum wage laws. If the wages are less then $7.25, employers have to go with the FLSA, because it is higher. If these wages are higher than $7.25, employers still have to take the higher wage, going with the state laws. At this time, the two are set the same in Indiana, at $7.25. If either one changes, though, be sure to know that you should get the higher of the two.
Tipped employees are not given the minimum wage under the FLSA, but are able to be paid less. The only cases when they cannot be paid less is if they do not make enough in tips to bring the total average earned up to minimum wage or when the state laws offer a different solution -— such as mandating that all employees get the same pay, whether or not they are tipped. In Indiana, you may only make $2.13 an hour, under state law, if you get tips. As noted, though, employers must pay more when tips aren't enough.
As in most states, you should get overtime pay when you accumulate a weekly total that is more than 40 hours. In some states, you can also get overtime if you break the limit of eight hours in a day, but Indiana law simply looks at weekly totals. If you only work twice a week, for ten hours at a time, then, you would not get overtime, but you would if you worked ten hours a day for five days.
You're probably going to get breaks from your employer. In many cases, you'll get short rest breaks that end up being paid and longer lunch breaks that are not paid. However, the laws in Indiana do not instruct employers on what they have to do, so the amount of breaks —- and the length -— can vary from job to job. Employers have a lot of say in this area.
It's still important to know your rights, though, to be sure that they are respected. For example, you have to be paid for all of the time that you work, and your employer can't count some of this work as a 30-minute, unpaid lunch break. Some employers may do this by having you answer phones, sort files, work on your computer or do other tasks on your lunch break. Your employer is not breaking the law by asking you to work, but he or she is breaking the law if you are not paid. Time spent working cannot be looked at as a lunch break, even if you are eating lunch.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified wage and hour lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local wage and hour attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.
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