Fair Labor Standards Act

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Historically, the wages and working conditions that "the market can bear" have often been more than the worker or his children have been able to.

In the interests of social and economic equity, the U.S. legislated the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act, which among other things, set a minimum wage to be paid by enterprises engaging in interstate commerce-including those involved in the production of goods that would be distributed through such commerce, imposed strict guidelines on the employment of minors and limited exemptions to its mandates to a few categories of workers, e.g., agricultural and seasonal workers.

The FLSA has evolved to encompass redefinition of regular-time work, mandating overtime payments in order to encourage the hiring of new workers and to ease the burden of extra work on the lowest-paid, while equalizing pay scales for men and women.

In 1938, in response to an outcry over child labor conditions and the crushing workweek imposed on many workers, the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA (also known as the Wage and Hour Act) was put into effect. While the exact details of these laws have evolved over time, they still dictate a minimum wage, required time-and-a-half pay for any time over forty hours for non-exempt employees, limitations on employment of minors, and a requirement to keep all employee time and payroll records. Additionally businesses are required to provide copies of the FLSA legislations for all of their employees.

Applying to all enterprises engaged in interstate commerce, the 1938 FLSA set the U.S minimum wage at25 cents per hour, which currently stands at $7.25 an hour, where it has held since 2009.

It also regulates the employment of minors; in order for an employer to hire a minor, the FLSA requires the child to first have a working permit. The business must follow the guidelines as stated by the FLSA. With respect to child labor, regulations govern what businesses children can work in, how many hours and during what times a child can work, and what age they need to be to do so. In its specifics, implemented under the authority of the Department of Labor, the current legislation specifies that employers must

"...pay covered employees who are not otherwise exempt at least the federal minimum wage and overtime pay of one-and-one-half-times the regular rate of pay. For non-agricultural operations, it restricts the hours that children under age 16 can work and forbids the employment of children under age 18 in certain jobs deemed too dangerous. For agricultural operations, it prohibits the employment of children under age 16 during school hours and in certain jobs deemed too dangerous." (source: Department of Labor)

The field of labor law has become extremely robust due to the many lawsuits that have been filed for violations of the FLSA, so if one does not know the exact details of any particular section of the law, it is important to thoroughly familiarize oneself with the legislation, to forestall ending up on the losing side of a costly lawsuit.
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