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HomeNewsEmployee Rights and Wage and Hour Laws: A Guide for Business Owners

Employee Rights and Wage and Hour Laws: A Guide for Business Owners

As a business owner, staying up-to-date on employment laws is essential for avoiding compliance issues. Employee satisfaction plays a vital role in enhancing the work environment. Employee rights related to compensation and leave have seen significant expansions lately. Understanding these changes helps create a fair, legally compliant workplace. This guide covers key wage and hour law updates you need to know. With the help of this blog, you can have a complete guide towards improving your compliance with acts that protect the rights of workers.

Safeguarding Essential Workers

Essential workers are the frontliners of any company. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the critical role of “essential workers” in roles like healthcare, food service, and sanitation. However, many of these frontline positions are among the most vulnerable to wage violations. The state has taken a number of measures to ensure the wage protection of frontline workers.

Recent federal and state measures aim to strengthen protections. These protections include expanding overtime eligibility for salaried workers under new thresholds, enhancing child labor regulations, scheduling hazardous tasks, and adjusting premium pay requirements for certain essential workers in some states.

Last but not least, reviewing pay policies through the lens of essential worker rights can help you comply with worker rights. These steps make sure lower-paid roles are properly classified and compensated.

For employers in the Los Angeles area facing potential wage and hour disputes or investigations, contacting an experienced Los Angeles wage and hour lawyer can provide valuable guidance on responding appropriately while protecting your interests. Qualified legal counsel understands both federal and California wage and hour laws and can advise on investigation processes and defense strategies.

Restoring Overtime Protections

Overtime protection is one of the most vital protections in the life of a salaried worker.

The very foundation of fair pay, overtime, has been significantly eroded over the past decades. In August 2023, the Department of Labor proposed updating regulations to substantially increase the salary thresholds under which most workers qualify for overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). For example, the standard weekly salary level would rise from $455 to $965, restoring overtime to millions. Monitoring these changes and auditing worker classifications is essential.

Understanding How to File Wage and Hour Complaints

Despite the best efforts, compensation disputes arise. Employees can file complaints with the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Labor Department alleging violations like unpaid overtime, minimum wage issues, improper deductions, and more.

The WHD addressed over 913,000 calls for assistance in 2022 alone. These calls have increased significantly over time. Companies should have processes to promptly resolve legitimate issues. This can help the company work productively without any barriers. A cooperative approach can limit legal exposure and ensure a proper working atmosphere in the company.


Protecting Agricultural Workers

The agricultural sector plays a vital role in ensuring food supply throughout the year. Migrant seasonal farmworkers face particular wage and hour compliance challenges like hazardous child labor, excessive hours without overtime, and unsanitary housing. The state has made efforts to ensure their financial protection.

The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act establishes robust standards for this vulnerable demographic. Agriculture employers need rigorous systems for worker eligibility verification and pay calculation. It makes sure to provide safe housing to migrant workers as well as transportation facilities.

Focusing on Fair Compensation:

According to the new acts, the employer is liable to compensate the worker in the event of any ambiguity. Beyond current pay disputes, addressing back wages helps ensure previously exploited workers get made whole. The WHD collects millions in back pay annually from employers engaging in practices like paying flat weekly rates that deny overtime, eliminating excessive costs from pay, and misclassifying workers as exempt employees and interns. Proactive auditing of pay practices prevents needless back wages.

Adapting to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law:

The landmark 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law ushers in pivotal wage protections for construction workers. Requirements like prevailing wage rate compliance, proper worker classification, and certified payroll reporting increase oversight. Construction firms should partner with legal and HR advisors to upgrade pay practices and training to avoid infractions.

Understanding the Family and Medical Leave Act:

The state provides protection to wage workers in case of any health emergency. Mastering Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) compliance represents one of the top employment law challenges. The FMLA provides eligible workers with up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave for health reasons. Critical aspects like eligibility tracking, required notices, benefit maintenance, job restoration, and intermittent leave make compliance complicated. But getting FMLA administration right is vital. This can help you ensure employee satisfaction. For compliance with this act, you have to be in touch with your human resources and legal teams.

Navigating the Patchwork of State and Local Laws

Alongside federal regulations, a mosaic of state and local wage and hour laws exists, including higher minimum wages, scheduling mandates, sick leave, and more. Staying compliant requires tracking location-specific laws and tailoring policies accordingly. Resources like state labor offices and minimum wage trackers assist with monitoring.


With expanded employee rights and evolving wage and hour laws, compliance vigilance is vital. Ensure your business has the expertise and systems to properly classify workers, calculate pay, administer leave, and resolve any disputes. Your workers and business will benefit.


Q: How does the WHD ensure workers receive their owed wages?

A: Through complaint investigations, audits, and legal action, the WHD can recover back wages from employers and impose penalties for willful violations.

Q: What do businesses need to know about new overtime protections?**

A: Proposed regulations would significantly increase the weekly salary threshold under which workers qualify for overtime pay under the FLSA. Monitoring changes and auditing worker classifications is key.

Q: What are some best practices for FMLA compliance?

A: Tracking eligibility, providing required notices, maintaining benefits, properly administering intermittent leave, and restoring employment after leave are all complex but critical aspects of FMLA compliance.