Surprising Worker Rights That Aren’t Enforced or Protected by the FLSA

By Katherine Muniz
August 31, 2016

In the U.S. employees have certain rights that are well-known. For instance, overtime pay, the federal minimum wage, youth employment age restrictions – these are all things guaranteed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). However, there are many labor practices that aren’t enforced by federal law, and they may surprise you:

Double Time

Many workers assume that if they work long enough hours, they’ll earn double-time pay. In reality, most workers will never know double-time pay, no matter how many hours they work. The FLSA has no requirement for double-time pay. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act Advisor, “This is a matter of agreement between an employer and employee (or the employee’s representative).” However, state laws may have their own requirements, like California, which requires employers to pay employees to double-time pay after working over 12 hours.

Notice Before Termination

Federal law has zero requirements that employers need to provide notice to employees prior to termination or lay-off. However, the FLSA points out that in some situations, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs. Also, some states may have requirements that do require employers to provide employees with notice before termination or lay-off.

Pay Stubs

Under the FLSA’s recordkeeping and notice requirements, pay stubs are not one of the items required to be given to employees by employers. The FLSA states that while employers must keep accurate records of hours worked and wages paid to employees, providing pay stubs is a voluntary matter. To learn more about time tracking records, check out our blog post on the topic.

Meals and Break

While some states have requirements for breaks or meal periods, the FLSA does not require lunch or breaks to be given to employees at all. However, when employers do offer short breaks (typically 5 to 20 minutes), federal law views those breaks as compensable work hours that must be paid. The FLSA also states that these hours are to be included in the sum of hours worked during the workweek to count towards overtime pay.

Holiday Pay

The FLSA does not require employers to provide employees with time off on holidays (not even federal holidays), nor does it require payment for time not worked. However, public-sector employees are designated 10 legal and paid holidays under federal law in Title 5 of the United States Code (USC). While many employees receive holidays off as a company benefit, according to the FLSA “these benefits are generally a matter of agreement between an employer and an employee (or the employee’s representative).” If you’d like to read more about compensable holiday pay, check out our article examining everything related to holiday pay.

Paid Family Leave

182 countries guarantee paid family leave and the U.S. isn’t one of them. Countries like Bangladesh, China, Ireland, Mexico, the UK, and Vietnam all offer their new mothers paid leave. Instead, the U.S. offers unpaid leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Vacation/Sick/Bereavement Pay

The FLSA does not require an employer to pay employees for time not worked, including vacations, sick leave, or holiday. However, the FMLA allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for family-related matters such as bereavement. Are you surprised to hear about the lack of regulation regarding the above? Do you view it positively or negatively? We’d love to hear your voice in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

*FingerCheck advises all organizations to check their time rules with legal counsel in order to determine legitimacy, as this article does not endorse any particular setup.

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