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November 5, 2008    DOL Home > Compliance Assistance > By Topic > Wages and Hours Worked   

Wages and Hours Worked

 Frequently Asked Questions


The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) administers several laws that affect the wages and hours of covered workers. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires payment of no less than the federal minimum wage for each hour worked and time and one-half the employee's regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in the workweek for non-exempt workers. The federal minimum wage for covered, nonexempt employees is $5.85 per hour effective July 24, 2007; $6.55 per hour effective July 24, 2008; and $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009. The FLSA also provides for the employment of certain individuals at wage rates below the minimum wage. There is also a special minimum wage which applies to youth under 20 years of age for 90 calendar days after they are first employed.

Most migrant and seasonal workers engaged in agriculture are protected by the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA). This law requires, among other things, that workers receive the rate which was disclosed upon recruitment or hire. The disclosed wage cannot be less than the higher of the applicable state minimum wage or the federal minimum wage established in the FLSA.

The Immigration and Nationality Act allows U.S. employers to hire foreign workers on a temporary or permanent basis to perform certain types of work. DOL's Employment and Training Administration (ETA) grants certification to employers to hire foreign workers in cases where there are insufficient qualified U.S. workers available and willing to perform work at wages that meet or exceed the prevailing wage paid for that occupation in the area of intended employment. In most cases, these workers must be paid the higher of the prevailing wage or the actual wage paid by the firm to workers with similar skills and qualifications.

And lastly, DOL enforces laws requiring minimum wages and fringe benefits to be paid workers (including apprentices) performing construction work on federally-funded contracts or providing services to the federal government. The Employment Standards Administration's Wage and Hour Division enforces most of these wage and hour laws as well as Title III of the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) which offers certain protection for workers whose wages are garnished.

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