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Fair Labor Standards Act

Bill Number: FLSA

Public Law Number: 75-718

Enacted - Signed by the President

Once the president signs a bill, it becomes a law.

Full title...
To provide for the establishment of fair labor standards in employments in and affecting interstate commerce, and for other purposes.

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Bill Text

This law gave workers (and children) new protections from exploitation

This 1938 law - part of Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal - was created in response to the Great Depression to protect workers and stimulate the economy.

Its provisions included...

o Establishing a federal minimum wage of 25 cents per hour.

o Requiring employers to pay overtime pay to most workers when they work more than 44 hours in a week.

o Restrictions on child labor

The law also created the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor to enforce the new protections.

Not everyone was covered by the protections

The law excluded certain employees from the minimum wage and overtime exemptions.

The minimum wage is set lower for food servers who receive tips as part of their job. However, if the employee doesn't receive enough tips to reach the hourly minimum wage, the employer is legally required to make up the difference.

Workers receiving a high enough salary (determined by the Wage and Hour Division) are exempt from the overtime pay requirement. The reasoning is that these employees already earn a higher wage and may receive other benefits such as better opportunities for advancement.

How the FLSA evolved to the present

1940The threshold for overtime was lowered to 40 hours per week
1963The Equal Pay Act prohibited differences based on gender

The federal minimum wage has been increased several times over the years. See this chart for a list of all the changes.

More information

For a fascinating look at development of the FLSA - that includes issues still at the center of labor policy today, see this Department of Labor report.

Click here to read a Congressional Research Service overview of the FLSA.

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