Many countries globally usually find themselves in a fix as they make attempts to regulate the various aspects surrounding labor and its provision. This is because a need for sensitivity arises in handling labor since most labor is either by humans or controlled by humans. On this account, many countries have had to pass laws, statutes and Acts to ensure that labor is not abused or misused. One such legislation is the United State’s Fair Labor Standards Act (Oren 2001).
The Fair Labor Standards Act: Its history and what it encompasses The Fair Labor Standards Act, commonly known as the Wages and Hours Bill or FLSA, is a labor regulation that applies to American workers engaged in commerce especially at an interstate level (Labor Department website 2010). This Act was introduced as a parliamentary bill by the then Alabama senator Hugo Black and was passed in 1938 by the American President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The law encompassed establishment of a rate for minimum wage payments nationally, the curbing of chances of oppressive child labor and the setting of grounds and regulations for overtime in certain job descriptions (Grossman 1978). This law’s objective was oriented towards doing away with bad labor conditions that were contrary to enabling proper living standards at the lower levels especially with regards to the efficiency, health and well being of workers.
FLSA received much opposition during its passing with the major opponents being the Supreme Court which struck down most laws that sought to establish minimum wage, working hours and child labor provisions, and the congressional members from the South, whose constituents saw a threat of business in the minimum wage law. Despite all these, the law was finally passed and it has had a very eventful journey, with many amendments being made on it in terms of adult minimum wage (Oren 2001). FLSA Amendments: Their relation to Adult Minimum Wages and Working hours
The first amendment, made in 1947, was called the portal to portal Act and it sought to clarify the type of time that was considered compensable work time and also to indicate that time spent on traveling to and from work places was not to be considered as paid working time (Labor Department website 2010). This amendment was triggered by a court ruling in 1946 by the Supreme Court against the law, citing that the employee had the obligation to be under the employer’s control hence he was required to perform to the employer’s benefit.
Another amendment to the bill was made in 1949 to include overtime compensation, raise the minimum wage, define a regular rate, and to extend the coverage on child labor since the war had lowered wage values to levels below the ones indicated in the Act (Sanjiv 2003). In 1955 the minimum wage was increased and six years later in 1961 the law was additionally amended by addition of an extra method for determination of enterprise coverage and the minimum wage defined and increased, with a provision allowed for suing for back wages (David and Alan 1995).
The law also now gave hospitals, schools and other care facilities, and government entities that are business-oriented automatic coverage by the law. In 1966, the Equal Pay Act was implemented on the FLSA to ensure that no worker was paid less on the basis of gender with exceptions only being allowed in cases of systems measuring work by quality or quantity, seniority systems, or merit systems. State, local government and farm workers were also given cover by the law in this amendment (Grossman 1978).
Between 1974 to the present, the FLSA has been amended to include domestic, migrant and seasonal workers in the coverage, several minimum wage increments on a laid plan, registration of labor contractors with the Department of labor, compensation of overtime away from aid time by state and local government employees, removal of the requirement of eight hours daily overtime on federal contracts, introduction of a training wage, provision of 12 weeks unpaid leave to eligible employees, Fair Pay regulations put in place to clarify on exempt employees, and provision of break times for special cases like nursing mothers in places exclusive of intrusion.
FLSA gives the minimum wage of adult employees currently at $7. 25 per hour, with credit for tips not exceeding 40% of the minimum wage in a 40 hrs work week for workers not in the agriculture field (Labor Department website 2010). This is because most workers in small farms and other divisions in agriculture are not entitled to a minimum wage. When FLSA was passed in 1938, the minimum wage was 40 cents (David and Alan 1995). During the law’s amendment in 1949, this rate was increased to 75 cents. In the subsequent years between 1949 and the present, the hourly minimum wage has increased severally; in 1955 to $1, in 1965 to $1. 25, in 1966 to $1.
60, in 1974 to $2. 3, in 1977 to $3. 35, in 1989 to $4. 25, in 1996 to 5. 15, and in 2007 to the current $7. 25. Minimum Children Wages and Working hours The FLSA sets several standards in child labor with regards to minimum wage, overtime pay and working hours (Oren 2001). These standards are aimed at protecting the rights of the children to education and good treatment and are regulated via setting of minimum ages for certain jobs, offering of a feasible wage rate and limiting the hours the children are meant to work. The FLSA sets the minimum age for jobs depending on whether they are hazardous or not, and what they are about (Sanjiv 2003).
Hazardous work in child labor is mainly interaction with machinery, chemicals, violent domestic animals, heavy loads, explosives, driving of vehicles, mining, exposure to radioactive material, working in enclosed areas that may be deficient in oxygen, wrecking operations, working on heights above 20 ft and brick, tile and related products manufacture (Willis 1997). He adds that the minimum age for hazardous agricultural work is 16 while that of the same in all other sectors is 18, though there are exceptions sometimes made especially for young apprentices and student-learners. In non-hazardous jobs on the other hand, the minimum employment age set by FLSA is 14 years in agriculture and 16 years in the other fields.
In Agriculture, there is no limit to working hours by children, though they are restricted to working only in non-school hours. In the other sectors, 14-15 year olds can only work for 18 hours in a school week and 40 hours in a non-school week. For 16-17 year olds, there is no limitation on the hours they work. As for wages, the minimum wage is set at $4. 25 per hour during their first 90 consecutive days of employment. Overtime The current overtime rate for workers varies depending on the mode of regular payment agreed between the employee and the employer and it is usually in excess of the allowable maximum in any employment scenario (Labor Department website 2010).
Regular payment in this case includes all payments made by the employer to or on behalf of the employee, and it encompasses: hourly rate which is the rate per hour, piece rate which is the rate given on a piecework basis, and salary which is the pay rate per given period of time (Sanjiv 2003). Overtime in hourly rates is calculated at the rate of one and a half times what the employee earns per hour. Piece rate pay calculations are calculated by dividing total weekly earnings to the total hours worked in the week, and it must in actual sense be paid during non-overtime hours and also be enough to yield the minimum wage per hour (Oren 2001). Here, overtime is then calculated by calculating the amount got from one and a half times the piece rate, or through a pre-work agreement between the employer and the employee.
Overtime pay calculated on salary by dividing the total salary to the hours worked over the time period, then finding half the amount realized and multiplying it by the overtime hours as shown below. Overtime Pay = (Total Salary) ? 2 ? Overtime hours Total hours worked In no case should the regular pay be less than the minimum wage required. Enforcement of FLSA FLSA is mainly enforced across the United States by investigators and representatives of Wage-Hour (Wage and Hour), a division of the government’s labor ministry (Labor Department website 2010). These representatives gather data on employment conditions, wage rates, working hours and other employment practices so that they can assess the compliance of the employer to the FLSA.
If they investigate and find violations like unlawful firing of employees based on gender, race or age, victimization of employees who have filed complaints or participated in FLSA-driven legal proceedings, they recommend the necessary changes to the employment practices, paying of a fine or prosecute the employer, depending on whether the offence is deliberate or unintentional, and the frequency of the offence (Sanjiv 2003). For the case of child labor, violators could be fined up to $10,000 on each for each employee subjected to the violation, while a first strike on willful violation lands a $10,000 fine and a second a jail term (Labor Department website 2010). Employers who violate minimum wage and overtime payment requirements could be charged up to $1,000 per violation in civil money penalties. Wage-Hour also has mechanisms for recovery of back wages and prohibition of goods shipment in interstate commerce that violate minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor, and special minimum wage provisions as indicated in FLSA.
Conclusion: Limitations of the FLSA: How and where it can not be applied The FLSA is sometimes limited in cases where employers claim exemption from the law. An example of such is white collar jobs that are done by professional, administrative and executive employees. Another exemption to FSLA is given by independent contractors or volunteers, for they are not considered employees, and seasonal employees as well as seamen on foreign vehicle. We can therefore say that despite this law being of help to most employees, there are still many more that it can not access, and this makes them vulnerable to oppression. References David, C, and Alan, B. (1995).
Economics of the Minimum Wage: Myths and Measurements, Princeton: Princeton University Press. Grossman, J. (1978). Fair Labor Standards Act: The 1938 Struggle for a Minimum Wage, Labor Review. Labor Department (DOL) website. (2010). Federal Minimum Wage Rates: History of FSLA between 1938-2009, United States of America, <http://www. dol. gov/whd/minwage/chart. htm>. Oren, M. (2001). The Case of the Minimum Wage: Competing Policy Models, Albany: State University of New York Press. Sanjiv, S. (2003). Raising the Minimum Wage rate: An evaluation of the up rating mechanism, Employee Relations. Willis, J. (1997). The Quest for a Living Wage: The History of the Federal Minimum Wage Program, Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press.