Federal Labor Laws For Salaried Employees

Written by J. Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

While labor laws are designed to afford the same sorts of protections and benefits to all American workers, the implementation of these protections differs depending on whether someone is paid on an hourly or salary basis. Hourly workers are protected by federal minimum hourly wage standards with overtime pay equal to “time and a half.” The laws around salary workers are similar but take on their own unique flavor.

Categories of Federal Labor Laws

There are four basic protections involved in salaried employee labor laws. These are:

  • Hours Worked
  • Late Days
  • Vacation & Sick Days

These make up the backbone of the American system of worker protection

Federal Laws about Hours Worked

If you are paid a salary rather than an hourly wage, you must work the number of hours agreed upon in your employment contract to receive your salary. While 40 hours per week is considered the standard, many employment contracts differ depending on the needs of the employer. It is not uncommon to see employment contracts with as few as 30 hours per week or as many as 50 depending on the position. Be sure to defer to your state’s Department of Labor, as states have their own rules regarding the maximum hourly limit for salaried employees.

Like hours worked, overtime pay is determined by your employment contract more than any particular set of laws. Salaried employees generally do not receive overtime unless it is stipulated in the contract, which it generally isn’t.

Differences Between Hourly Late Pay and Salary Late Pay

One of the main benefits of being a salaried employee is that your pay is not determined by whether or not you show up late to work. Even if you only work for five or six hours, you will be paid for a full day of work. The only difference is that if you don’t show up for more than a week at a time, then you won’t be paid for that week.

Of course, your employer still retains the right to terminate your employment if you show up late too often. In the event that you are terminated, your pay will be for the days between the start of your company’s pay cycle all the way to the date of your termination. This will be a pro-rated amount.

Salary Laws for Vacation & Sick Days

While labor laws don’t require employers to give you paid vacation days or sick days, the Family and Medical Leave Act requires employers to give up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain medical issues. However, many employment contracts include paid vacation and sick days. In this case, the law states that people taking vacation or sick days be paid for the full day if the hours are available.

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