More than 130 million workers in private and public employment, including preschools, elementary and secondary schools, and institutions of higher education are covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Key requirements are:
- Wage and hour requirements. Unless an employee is exempt, the FLSA provides that an employer must pay a minimum wage of at least $7.25 for the first 40 hours worked and not less than 1.5 times an employee's regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours. However, the FLSA does not limit the number of hours in a day or days in a week an employee may be required or scheduled to work, including overtime hours, if the employee is at least 16 years old.
The FLSA also requires every employer of employees subject to the FLSA's minimum wage requirements to post and keep posted a notice explaining the FLSA in a place where all employees will see it. There is no size requirement for the poster, but employees must be able to readily read it.
- Record-keeping. Every employer covered by the FLSA must maintain accurate records for each covered/non-exempt employee. Although there is no federal form or sanctioned format, payroll software and payroll services available through BOCES typically provide ways to maintain the relevant information. The FLSA requires employers to preserve payroll records, collective bargaining agreements, and sales and purchase records for at least three years. Records upon which wages were calculated, including time cards, wage rate tables, work and time schedules should also be retained for at least two years. Records should be maintained at the place of employment or a central records office.
- Equal pay. The FLSA also prohibits an employer from basing pay on gender. Employers may not pay employees who perform jobs that require equal skill, effort, and responsibility and which are performed under similar working conditions different wages based on the employee's gender.
- Accommodation for nursing mothers. Employers are required to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child each time such employee has need to express the milk for one year after the child's birth. Employers are also required to provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.
Although the FLSA provides that only employees who are not exempt under the FLSA are entitled to breaks to express milk, New York State law provides that all public and private employers must make accommodations for nursing mothers. An employer is not required under the FLSA or New York State law to compensate nursing mothers for breaks taken for the purpose of expressing milk; however, the FLSA provides that an employee must be completely relieved from duty or else the time must be compensated as work time. If employees already received compensated breaks, an employee who uses that break time to express milk must also be compensated.