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Navigating wage and hour laws to avoid common pitfalls

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2024 | Employment Law

To avoid legal issues and maintain a fair workplace, employers must understand and comply with wage and hour laws.

Learning how to navigate these laws effectively can allow you to maintain an amicable relationship with your workers.

Know the basics

First, familiarize yourself with the Fair Labor Standards Act, which sets standards for minimum wage, overtime pay and other employment practices. Ensure that you pay at least the federal minimum wage, and remember that many locations have higher minimum wages.

Classify employees correctly

One common mistake employers make is incorrectly classifying employees as exempt from overtime. To avoid this, understand the criteria for exempt and non-exempt status. Exempt employees typically perform high-level or professional duties and are paid a salary rather than an hourly wage. Non-exempt employees are eligible for overtime pay. Misclassification can lead to costly legal consequences.

Record keeping is key

Maintain accurate records of hours worked for all employees. This includes those on salary and as well as those receiving hourly wages. Proper documentation helps resolve any disputes over wages or hours worked and is a legal requirement.

Understand local laws

In California, the minimum wage is $16 per hour, but if you employ workers in other states, that may be different. Wage and hour laws can vary significantly between states and even cities. Take time to check the local regulations in addition to federal laws to ensure full compliance. Areas often covered by state laws include meal breaks, rest periods and pay frequency.

Regularly review policies

Laws and regulations can change, so it is important to regularly review and update your policies and practices. This helps ensure ongoing compliance and can prevent legal issues from arising.

By staying informed and proactive about wage and hour laws, employers can create a compliant and fair work environment that supports both the business and its employees.