Looking into labor laws: hours and overtime

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Speculation, rumor, and stubbornness abound regarding such issues as paying employees for overtime and granting maternity leave.

Speculation, rumor, and stubbornness abound regarding such issues as paying employees for overtime and granting maternity leave.

But following these laws is vital for your legal safety and your employees' satisfaction. So here's the scoop on hours and overtime:

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), you must pay eligible employees (most of them) time-and-a-half when they've worked more than 40 hours in one workweek—not more than 80 hours over a two-week pay period, as many practices do.

And effective as of Aug. 23, new FLSA rules dictate that workers earning less than $455 a week—or $23,660 a year—automatically qualify for overtime. Under the old rules, only workers earning less than $155 a week, or $8,060 a year, automatically qualified. The new laws also revise job duties required for workers to qualify for exemption.

Increasing the minimum salary guarantees overtime pay for an additional 1.3 million low-wage workers and strengthens overtime entitlement for another 10.7 million workers. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Labor site at www.wagehour.dol.gov .

The FLSA doesn't limit the number of hours in a day, or days in a week, an employee may be required to work as long as the employee is at least 16 years old. But some state laws address these issues, so check with your state before you set policies. Find your state's site through the Department of Labor site at www.dol.gov/esa/contacts/state_of.htm .

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