Staying on the Job

Questions & Answers

Question: If I feel I earned more than I was paid, is there a government organization I can call to confirm that?

Answer:

There are both federal and state laws that govern labor and employment. The U.S. Department of Labor is responsible for setting the minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor standards for employment, and recordkeeping. The federal law that controls these issues is called the Fair Labor Standards Act. Employers who are covered by the Act are required to keep certain records for each employee who is eligible for overtime pay (called non-exempt workers). The Act requires that the information be accurate. The Act does not specify any particular form for these records but requires that the records include the following information:

  • Employee’s full name, address, social security number, gender and date of birth if younger than 19
  • Employee's occupation, time and day of week when employee’s workweek begins
  • Hours worked each day, total hours worked each workweek and basis on which employee’s wages are paid (hourly, piecework, etc.)
  • Regular hourly pay rate. total daily or weekly straight-time earnings, total overtime earnings for the workweek
  • All additions to or deductions from the employee’s wage, total wages paid each pay period and date of payment and the pay period covered by the payment.

The Act requires that the Employer keep time records but the timekeeping method is up to the employer to decide, but again, it must be accurate. Employers must keep these payroll records for at least three years. Records of things like time cards and piece work tickets, additions to or deductions from wages upon which the paycheck is based, are to be kept for two years. The records must be open for inspection by a representative from the Division of Wage and Hour of the Department of Labor, to verify the employer’s compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act. Problems can arise when employers don’t recognize and count certain hours worked, such as when an employee remains at his/her desk while eating lunch and regularly answers the phone and takes care of the employer’s business; this is time that must be counted and paid because the employee is still on duty.

For additional information, visit the U.S. Department of Labor online, or call the Wage-Hour toll-free information and helpline, from 8 am to 5 pm at 1-866-4USWAGE (1-866-487-9243), or visit the Industrial Commission of Arizona online.

February 24, 2007

Comments

On 8/14/07
Karen said
Can an employer make an employee work a nine hour day to take a one hour lunch break not paid? I though lunches were paid within the 8 hour work day. Is it not true for a salaried workers he/she work an 8 hour day and take a half hour for lunch??