Federal Laws

Major Employment Laws

The Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act puts in place comprehensive health insurance reforms that began in 2010, and will continue to be rolled out in the coming years.

Click here for an overview of the key features of the Affordable Care Act, year-by-year.

For more on the ACA (“Obamacare”), please see the Healthcare Reform section.

Wages and Hours

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The FLSA establishes minimum wages, overtime pay, record keeping and child labor standards for private sector and government workers. The FLSA is administered and enforced by the DOL Wage and Hour Division.

Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay

Wages and the Fair Labor Standards Act

  • FLSA Minimum Wage: The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009. Many states also have minimum wage laws. In cases where an employee is subject to both state and federal minimum wage laws, the employee is entitled to the higher minimum wage.
  • FLSA Overtime: Covered nonexempt employees must receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 per workweek (any fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours — seven consecutive 24-hour periods) at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate of pay. There is no limit on the number of hours employees 16 years or older may work in any workweek. The FLSA does not require overtime pay for work on weekends, holidays, or regular days of rest, unless overtime is worked on such days.
  • Recordkeeping (PDF): Employers must display an official poster outlining the requirements of the FLSA. Employers must also keep employee time and pay records.
  • Child Labor: These provisions are designed to protect the educational opportunities of minors and prohibit their employment in jobs and under conditions detrimental to their health or well-being.
  • Child Labor Protections (Nonagricultural Work) – Fair Labor Standards Act – Child Labor Provisions
  • Child Labor Protections (Agricultural Work) – Fair Labor Standards Act – Child Labor Provisions
  • Workers with Disabilities for the Work Being Performed – Fair Labor Standards Act – Section 14(c)
  • Wage Garnishment – Consumer Credit Protection Act
  • Worker Protections in Agriculture – Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act provides an entitlement of up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave during any 12-month period to eligible, covered employees for the following reasons:

  1. birth and care of the eligible employee’s child, or placement for adoption or foster care of a child with the employee;
  2. care of an immediate family member (spouse, child, parent) who has a serious health condition; or
  3. when the employee is unable to work due to his or her own serious health condition.

The FMLA is administered and enforced by the Wage and Hour Division.

Safety and Health Standards

Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act

Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act – Requires employers to comply with occupational safety and health standards issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and to provide employees with a workplace that is free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm. The OSH Act is administered and enforced by OSHA.

  • Mine Safety and HealthMine Safety and Health Act
  • Worker Protections in Agriculture – Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act
  • Child Labor Protections (Nonagricultural Work) – Fair Labor Standards Act – Child Labor Provisions
  • Child Labor Protections (Agricultural Work) – Fair Labor Standards Act – Child Labor Provisions

For additional information, click here to see the OSHA/Safety & Health section.

Health Benefits, Retirement Standards, and Workers’ Compensation

Migrant and Seasonal Agriculture Worker Protection Act (MSPA)

Requires farm labor contractors, agricultural employers, and agricultural associations who recruit, solicit, hire, employ, furnish, transport, or house agricultural workers, as well as providers of migrant housing, to meet certain minimum requirements in their dealings with migrant and seasonal agricultural workers. The MSPA is administered and enforced by the Wage and Hour Division.

Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA)

Prohibits most private employers from using lie detector tests, either for pre-employment screening or during the course of employment. The EPPA is administered and enforced by the Wage and Hour Division.

Executive Order 11246 (Equal Employment Opportunity)

Prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors and federally assisted construction contractors and subcontractors that generally have contracts exceeding $10,000 from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; and it requires them to take affirmative action to ensure that equal opportunity is provided in all aspects of their employment. Executive Order 11246 is administered and enforced by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

Davis-Bacon and Related Acts (DBRA)

Requires that all contractors and subcontractors performing work on federal or District of Columbia construction contracts in excess of $2,000, or on federally assisted contracts, pay their laborers and mechanics not less than the prevailing wage rates and fringe benefits. The DBRA is administered and enforced by the Wage and Hour Division.

McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA)

Requires contractors and subcontractors performing services on federal or District of Columbia contracts in excess of $2,500 to pay service employees in various classes no less than the wage rates and fringe benefits found prevailing in the locality or the rates (including prospective increases) contained in a predecessor contractor’s collective bargaining agreement. The wage and hour requirements of the SCA are administered and enforced by the Wage and Hour Division.

Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act (PCA)

Requires covered contractors to pay employees on federal supply contracts not less than the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and time and one half their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. The wage and hour requirements of the PCA are administered and enforced by the Wage and Hour Division.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)

Requires employers to provide to employees notice of their rights, benefits, and obligations under USERRA. Employers may provide the required notice by distributing it or posting it where employee notices are customarily placed. USERRA is administered by the Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS).

Other Workplace Standards

Work Authorization for non-U.S. citizens

Federal Contracts:  Working Conditions

Federal Contracts:  Equal Opportunity in Employment

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