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The Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act was enacted in 1938 to provide relief to families by prohibiting employers from taking advantage of employees, including prohibition of child labor.

The law originally applied to interstate commerce, and now applies to most employers, establishing a minimum wage, and ensuring that covered employees are paid for overtime work.

Federal law controls policies, unless a state law is more lenient, in favor of the employees.

Coverage

Jobs are categorized as either "non-exempt" or "exempt" under guidelines established by the FLSA.

Non-Exempt

A position categorized as non-exempt is covered by the act, and pay is calculated on an hourly basis. Non-exempt positions are entitled to overtime pay, calculated at 1-1/2 times the regular hourly rate for all hours worked beyond 40 in a work week.

Exempt

Exempt jobs are those which are exempt from overtime provisions of the FLSA. Staff in exempt jobs are paid a fixed salary and hours worked beyond 40 in a work week do not result in additional pay. Full-time staff employed in exempt jobs at the University are expected to work at least 40 hours per week and more as necessary.

  • Exempt employees include workers in bona fide executive, administrative, and professional positions.
  • Executive positions run the enterprise; they are concerned with planning and strategic goals.
  • Administrative positions function to carry out department-oriented goals; they are responsible for ongoing operations.
  • Professional positions require formal specialized training or education.

Minimum Wage

The current minimum wage for employees is $7.65 per hour.

Overtime Pay

See Saint Louis University's overtime policy.

Non-Exempt Hours Worked

See Saint Louis University's compensatory time and work schedule flexibility policy.

Enforcement and Penalties

A court action may be filed against an employer by an employee or the Secretary of Labor. The statute of limitations on enforcement proceedings for unpaid minimum wages and unpaid overtime compensation is two years for non-willful action, and three years for willful action.

The penalties for non-compliance with the FLSA include:

  • liability for unpaid minimum wages, plus interest;
  • liability for unpaid overtime, plus interest;
  • liability for reasonable attorney's fees, (and at the court's discretion, an additional equal amount as liquidated damages for willful violations);
  • criminal penalties which may be imposed against employers who willfully violate its provisions.

Retaliation against an employee who files a complaint, or is in any way involved in an FLSA action, is illegal.

Recordkeeping

Employers covered by this act are required to keep the following information:

  • Wage rate tables;
  • Work time schedules; and
  • Records of employment and earnings to include:
    • name, address, sex, and birth date;
    • employee's occupation and daily work schedule;
    • regular hourly rate of pay for any week in which the employee worked overtime (for non-exempt employees);
    • record of hours worked on a daily and weekly basis with total earnings due (for non-exempt employees);
    • actual wages paid and deductions taken.

The University maintains this information for three years to accommodate audits by the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor.

Notice Posting

Employers are required to post notices issued by the Wage & Hour Division of the Department of Labor. Most of these notices involve minimum wage announcements and are posted in the Human Resources area.

The FLSA Does not require employers to:

  • limit the number of hours worked by employees 16 years of age or older;
  • give pay raises or provide fringe benefits;
  • provide vacation, holiday, sick leave, or severance pay;
  • provide rest or meal periods or days off;
  • provide premium pay for weekend or holiday work;
  • provide premium pay for hours worked in excess of eight in a day; or
  • provide discharge notice or make payment of wages immediately on termination.

 

FAQs

What are the criteria that enable employees to be exempt from FLSA overtime provisions?

To be exempt, an employee must meet all of the standards in the following tests:

  • Be paid over a minimum salary established by the FLSA - "the salary level test"
  • Be paid on a salary basis as opposed to an hourly basis - "the salary basis test"
  • Perform certain duties as outlined in one of the "duties tests"
What duties tests are applicable to Saint Louis University employees?

To be exempt, an employee must qualify under one or more of the following tests:

  • Executive exemption test
  • Administrative exemption test
  • Professional exemption test
  • Computer exemption test
  • Highly compensated employee exemption test 

Each duties test has specific requirements that must be met for an employee to be exempt. For example, the Executive Exemption requires that an employee a) supervise two or more full time employees (or their FTE equivalent), b) have authority to hire and fire, or meaningfully recommend hiring and firing, and c) manage a recognized department or subdivision.

Are there duties tests that relate to higher education?

 

Teachers are exempt if their primary duty is teaching, tutoring, instructing or lecturing in the activity of imparting knowledge, and if they are employed and engaged in this activity as a teacher in an educational establishment. Employees whose primary duty is performing administrative functions directly related to academic instruction or training in an educational establishment must be paid on a salary basis which is at least equal to the entrance salary for teachers in the same educational establishment.
What is the salary level test?

The FLSA salary level test, requires that an employee's salary must be at least $23,660 annually or $455 a week in order to be considered exempt from the overtime provisions. An employee with a salary less than $23,660 annually or $455 a week must be classified as non-exempt. The salary level test is one of three standards that must be met for a position to be considered exempt.

Does exempt status affect pay and benefits at Saint Louis University?

Exempt status has an impact on three areas: overtime pay, frequency of pay, and time reporting.

  • Overtime for non-exempt employees: Non-exempt employees are eligible for overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times their hourly rate for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek.
  • Frequency of pay: Non-exempt staff are paid on a bi-weekly basis.
  • Time reporting: Non-exempt staff record all hours worked during the bi-weekly pay cycle.
What constitutes "work time" under the FLSA?

Time worked under the FLSA includes all time spent performing job-related activities that (a) genuinely benefit the employer, (b) which the employer "knows or has reason to believe" are being performed by an employee, and (c) which the employer does not prohibit the employee from performing. These can include activities performed during "off-the-clock" time, at the job site or elsewhere, whether "voluntary" or not.

Examples of work time include a) time worked before the scheduled start time; b) rest breaks less than 20 minutes; c) eating lunch at the desk, while answering the phone, serving students, or performing any work; and c) time worked after the scheduled ending time.

Examples of non-work time include a) eating lunch at desk, but not answering phone nor working, and b) rest breaks or meal periods of 20 minutes or longer.

Is a non-exempt employee paid for time to travel between one work location and another work location?

Travel from one worksite to another during the workday is work time. Special rules exist for out-of-town overnight travel. Time spent commuting to and from work is not compensable work time. For specific details, please contact Human Resources.

May a non-exempt employee volunteer to work unpaid hours in his/her regular job in addition to his/her regular schedule?

No. All non-exempt employees must be compensated for all hours actually worked in his/her regular job. Any work over 40 hours in a workweek must be approved before it is worked by the employee's supervisor. Working unauthorized overtime may lead to disciplinary action, but employees will be paid for all hours worked, including overtime.

Can I use compensatory time off in lieu of overtime pay?

No. Institutions in the private sector are not permitted to use compensatory time off.

I am a manager. How do I approve overtime?

Approval for time worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek can be given by following the department's established guidelines. If there are not established guidelines, the department will need to develop these guidelines that are appropriate for the area and type of work performed, and communicate the process and expectations to the non-exempt employees. Contact your Human Resources consultant for support if needed.

Can employers allow employees to have flexible schedules to accommodate for events in the evening or days which require a greater number of hours worked?

Yes. There are instances when a supervisor might permit flexible work hours to allow a non-exempt worker to work less hours in one work day to accommodate for another day when the employee had to work an event in the evening or work overtime to complete a project. Flexible schedules must account for work hours in the same workweek.

Contact your HR consultant with any additional questions.