The Origin of the Fair Labor Standard

The Fair Labor Standard Act of FLSA was originally drafted by Senator Hugo Black of Alabama and signed into law in 1938 under the Roosevelt Administration. The FLSA has been touted as the most important piece of New Deal legislation since the Social Security Act of 1935. As originally enacted, the FLSA applies to employees engaged in interstate commerce or who are employed by an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce.

President Roosevelt characterized the FLSA as "the most far-reaching, far-sighted program for the benefit of workers ever adopted in this or any other country." The FLSA was designed to "put a ceiling over hours and a floor under wages" by establishing an eventual maximum 40 weekly work hours and a minimum wage of 40 cents an hour. It also served to protect children, prohibiting children under 18 from doing certain dangerous jobs and disallowing children under 16 from working during school hours.

Today, the FLSA serves a number of purposes, establishing minimum wage, overtime, record keeping, and youth employment. As stated by the US Department of Labor, the highlights of the FLSA are as follows:

  • 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.
  • Hours Worked: Hours worked ordinarily include all the time during which an employee is required to be on the employer's premises, on duty, or at a prescribed workplace.
  • Recordkeeping: 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.
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