The minimum wage page explains what minimum wage is and how it might affect you. It details who the Fair Labor Standards Act covers, as well as what wage applies for probationary periods, minors, and training. This page also explains how minimum wage laws affect commissions, tips.
This page provides answers to the following questions:
The federal minimum wage for covered, nonexempt employees is $7.25 an hour, effective July 24, 2009. Many states, and some cities, also have minimum wage laws. If state, city, and federal minimum wage laws apply, then the employee is entitled to whichever minimum wage is higher.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) contains the federal minimum wage provisions. Many states, and some cities, also have minimum wage laws. For more information about your state see our Filing a Wage & Hour Claim pages or DOL state minimum wage laws.
The FLSA covers more than eighty million American workers. There are two ways an employee can be covered: "enterprise coverage" and "individual coverage." Either standard is sufficient for you to be entitled to receive the minimum wage.
Enterprise coverage: Employees who work for certain businesses or organizations (“enterprises") are covered by the FLSA. An enterprise much have at least two employees and:
Individual coverage: Even when there is no enterprise coverage, employees are protected by the FLSA if their work regularly involves them in commerce between states ("interstate commerce"). In its own words, the law covers individual workers who are "engaged in commerce or the production of goods for commerce."
Examples of employees who are involved in interstate commerce include those who:
Domestic service workers (such as housekeepers, full-time babysitters, chauffeurs, and cooks) are normally covered by the law, as long as:
Employers whose enterprises are covered by the FLSA, or who have employees engaged in interstate commerce are required by the FLSA to pay the minimum wage. Unlike other laws relating to employment, the standard does not depend on how many employees the employer has. The determining factor is the nature of the work performed by the enterprise and the employee. Coverage depends on whether the employee or employer is engaged in interstate commerce. For more information, please see the previous question.
Where an employee is subject to both the state and federal minimum wage laws, or federal, state, and city minimum wage laws, the employee is entitled to higher of the minimum wages. For more information on your state's minimum wage laws, select your state from the state map below or see DOL state minimum wage laws.
For more information on your state or city's minimum wage laws, select your state from the state map below or see the DOL state minimum wage laws. If you have questions about your state's minimum wage law, you may wish to contact the state agency that handles wage and hour/labor standards violations, listed on our site's state government agencies page.
While your employer may pay you different rates for different kinds of work, the pay rates cannot be averaged to meet your employer's minimum wage obligations. For example, your employer could not pay you $6.50 for certain hours worked, even if for the rest of the hours worked, you were paid $8.00 per hour, making your average rate of pay higher than $7.25 per hour.
Yes (if you would otherwise be covered by the FLSA or equivalent state laws discussed above), which means that your average hourly earnings for the week must equal $7.25 or higher. An employer cannot create a salary rate that is so low that when you divide your weekly pay by the number of hours worked the resulting hourly pay is less than the minimum wage. For example, your employer could not pay you a salary of $275 per week for 40 hours of work, because your salary must be at least $290 to equal $7.25 per hour.
Yes (if you would otherwise be covered by the FLSA or equivalent state laws discussed above), which means that your average hourly earnings for the week must equal $7.25 or higher. An employer cannot create a commission standard that is so low that when you divide your weekly pay by the number of hours worked the resulting hourly pay is less than the minimum wage. If your pay including commission is below the minimum wage, then your employer is required to make up the difference. For example, if during a slow period, your commission averages only $5.00 per hour, then your employer must pay you an additional $2.25 per hour to make up the difference so that you receive the $7.25 minimum wage.
Yes (if you would otherwise be covered by the FLSA or equivalent state laws discussed above), which means that your average hourly piece rate earnings for the week must equal $7.25 or higher. An employer cannot create a piece rate standard that is so low that when you divide your weekly pay by the number of hours worked the resulting hourly pay is less than minimum wage. If your piece rate total is below the minimum wage, then your employer must make up the difference.
For example, you are paid .75 for each completed widget, and normally complete ten widgets per hour (for an average wage of $7.50 per hour). On one work week, your production line has mechanical difficulties and staffing shortages so that you can only make six widgets per hour (giving you an average wage of $4.50 per hour for that week). Under federal law, your employer must make up the difference and pay you an extra 2.75 per hour, so that you at least make the minimum wage of $7.25.
An employer of a tipped employee is only required to pay $2.13 an hour in direct wages, as long as all three of the following conditions are met:
If your tips combined with at least $2.13 an hour in wages do not equal the federal minimum hourly wage, your employer must make up the difference. For example, if during a slow period, your tips average only $2 per hour you work, your employer must pay you an additional $3.12 per hour to make up the difference ($2/hour in tips, 2.13 in regular wage, plus the additional $3.12 in wages, so that you receive the $7.25 minimum wage).
Some states and cities have minimum wage laws specific to tipped employees. When an employee is subject to both the federal and state wage laws, or federal, state, and city wage laws, the employee is entitled to the provisions of each law which provide the greater benefits.
Possibly, but only if you are under 20 years of age. A minimum wage of $4.25 per hour applies to young workers under the age of 20 during their first 90 consecutive calendar days of employment with an employer, as long as their work does not displace other workers. After 90 consecutive days of employment or after the employee reaches 20 years of age, whichever comes first, the employee must receive a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
A minimum wage of $4.25 per hour applies to young workers under the age of 20 during their first 90 consecutive calendar days of employment with an employer, as long as their work does not displace other workers. After 90 consecutive days of employment or when the employee reaches 20 years of age, whichever comes first, the employee must receive a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
There is also a special program is for high school students at least 16 years old who are enrolled in vocational education (shop courses). It allows your employer to get a certificate from the Department of Labor authorizing an employer to pay you 75% of the minimum wage (currently $5.44) while you are enrolled in the vocational education program.
If neither of these special circumstances applies to you, then you are subject to the FLSA and employers must pay you the minimum wage.
If you are a full-time student working in retail or service stores, agriculture, or colleges and universities, your employer may participate in the Full-Time Student Program. This program allows the employer to get a certificate from the Department of Labor which allows employers to pay you 85% of the minimum wage (currently $6.16 per hour). The certificate also limits the hours that you may work to 8 hours in a day and no more than 20 hours a week when school is in session and 40 hours when school is out. It requires the employer to follow all child labor laws. Once students graduate or leave school for good, they must be paid $7.25 per hour.
However, not all employers who hire students participate in this program or have the necessary certificate. If you are being paid less than minimum wage, you should find out whether your employer is a formal participant in the program and in compliance with its provisions.
For more information on the Full-Time Student Program and whether your employer is a participant, contact the:
Department of Labor Wage and Hour Western Region Office 525 S. Griffin Square, Suite 800 Dallas, TX 75202 (972) 850-2601.
Yes, if the value deducted is a reasonable estimate of the actual cost. Under the FLSA's definition of wages, an employer may include the reasonable cost of furnishing board, lodging, or other facilities. This rule applies when the employer pays for the benefit, and if the employer customarily furnishes such board, lodging, or other facilities. Whether a value is reasonable is determined by the Secretary of Labor. For example, you are provided with lodging worth an estimated $250 per month, based on other rents in the area. Your employer can count that $250 towards your rate of pay, but could not deduct $500 if that rate was not the reasonable value of the lodging provided.
The FLSA does not require that your employer give you meal breaks or rest breaks from your work, although some state laws require rest and meal breaks.
If your employer does give you a rest period of short duration, usually 20 minutes or less, this must be counted as hours worked. If you take a longer break than the amount of time that was authorized, your employer is not required to count this as hours worked. To not pay you for unauthorized break time your employer must have expressly and unambiguously told you:
Bona fide meal periods (typically 30 minutes or more) do not need to be paid, or counted as work time, as long as you are completely relieved from duty for the purpose of eating regular meals. You are not considered relieved from duty if you are required to perform any work duties, whether active or inactive while eating.
It depends on the type of travel involved.
Yes, unless four specific criteria are met. Attendance at lectures, meetings, training programs and similar activities need not be counted as working time if:
The FLSA is enforced by the Wage-Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor. The Wage-Hour Division (WHD) uses investigators stationed across the U.S., who conduct investigations and gather data on wages, hours, and other employment conditions or practices, to determine whether an employer is following the law. If they find violations, they may recommend changes in employment practices to bring an employer into compliance.
It is a violation to fire or in any other manner discriminate against an employee for filing a complaint or for participating in a legal proceeding under FLSA.
Willful violations may be prosecuted criminally and the violator fined up to $10,000. A second conviction may result in imprisonment. Employers who willfully or repeatedly violate the minimum wage requirements are subject to a penalty of up to $1,000 for each violation.
The FLSA makes it illegal to ship goods in interstate commerce which were produced in violation of the minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor, or special minimum wage provisions.
To contact the Wage-Hour Division for further information or to report a potential FLSA minimum wage violation, call:
Toll-Free: (866) 4USWAGE (866-487-9243)
TTY: (877) 889-5627 (available Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time)
You may also contact your local WHD office.
If you need information about your state's minimum wage law or wish to report a potential state minimum wage violation, you can contact the agency in your state that handles wage and hour/labor standards violations, listed on our site's state government agencies page.
There are several methods for an employee to recover unpaid minimum or overtime wages; each method has different remedies.
Your state minimum wage law may have different methods for recovery of unpaid wages, and different remedies to be awarded to those who succeed in proving a violation. For further information, please contact your state agency that handles wage and hour/labor standards violations, listed on our site's state government agencies page.
The Department of Labor (DOL), Wage and Hour Division (WHD), is responsible for enforcing Federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor requirements of the FLSA.
If you would like to file a complaint for unpaid wages, the WHD is the division of the DOL that would administer and enforce wage protection laws and may pursue the complaint on your behalf. You may also file your own lawsuit (which may require you to hire an attorney).
To file a complaint, you must obtain and provide WHD requested information. Do not delay in contacting the Wage and Hour Division or your state agency to file a claim. There are strict time limits in which charges of unpaid wages must be filed. To preserve your claim under federal law, you must file a lawsuit in court within 2 years of the violation for which you are claiming back wages, except in the case of an employer's willful violation, in which case a 3-year statute applies. However, as you might have other legal claims with shorter deadlines, do not wait to file your claim until your time limit is close to expiring. You may wish to consult with an attorney prior to filing your claim, if possible. If you are unable to find an attorney who will assist you, it is not necessary to have an attorney to file your claim with the state and federal administrative agencies.
Your state minimum wage law may have different deadlines for recovery of unpaid wages. For further information, select your state from the map below or from this list.
You will need your name, address and telephone number so that you may be contacted. You will also need to provide the name of the company that you are filing the complaint against. The location of the company as well as their contact information are also required. You will be expected to additionally provide the manager's or owner's names, the type of work that you did, and the method and frequency of payment that you received. Copies of pay stubs, person record of hours and other information related to your employment are helpful.
In proceeding with your case, you will be directed to your nearest WHD office to file the complaint. There are more than 200 WHD offices nationwide. To locate the office nearest you, call WHD at 1-866-487-9243 or visit www.dol.gov/whd.
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23. Can my boss fire me for filing a claim?
No. Your employer may not terminate you for filing a claim. They also may not punish you in any other manner or discriminate against you for filing a claim. See our page on Retaliation for more information.
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24. More Information About the Minimum Wage
U.S. Department of Labor Wage Page: The Department of Labor is the federal agency which administers a variety of Federal labor laws including those that guarantee workers' rights to a minimum hourly wage and overtime pay.
Resources: State Government Agencies: At our site's listing of state government agencies, you can find the contact information and web links to the agency in your state which enforces state wage and hour laws.
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