Until the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) passed in 1938, the American labor industry didn’t provide consistency for their workers. The law set standards for all workplaces to follow to ensure a regulated work environment for employees that continue setting compliance standards today.
FLSA provides clear guidelines for business owners to help them protect their employees’ rights. Businesses are held accountable to FLSA and are required to be in compliance with it at all times. One of our central goals is to make sure you remain in compliance with federal and state labor laws, but knowing the law’s origin can help us understand why compliance is so important.
Life Before Modern Labor Laws
We haven’t always had laws to protect American workers. According to the Department of Labor, it was common for working class individuals to work up to 12 hour days for six or seven days each week. When factories experienced structural damages, it put the lives of factory workers at risk. It was common for workers to get hurt on the job, often with little to no compensation.
While states and federal groups attempted to make headway, constitutionality became a concern. The Supreme Court saw several cases related to labor laws. In Hammer v. Dagenhart, they decided that a federal law regulating child labor was unconstitutional. A few years later, Adkins v. Children’s Hospital found a minimum wage law in Washington DC unenforceable.
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938
Many iterations of the FLSA passed through Congress before they signed a “barebones” bill in 1938. President Roosevelt strove to sign an act that would help relieve the strains poverty placed on families. The first bill to pass — after over a year of back-and-forth — set a maximum 44 hour work week with a $0.25 per hour minimum wage.
At the time, the president and his supporters still wanted more comprehensive child labor laws. Safety laws for those working in manufacturing and mining were also in the works. The goal was for those working full-time to be safe, fed and housed with their paycheck. At the time the bill passed, only about a third of the US population could access those three things with their wages.
The Federal Labor Standards Act Today
Since 1938, fair labor laws have changed drastically, and the protection workers receive today far exceed Roosevelt’s original goals. The FLSA now protects:
- A federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour
- Overtime minimum pay of 1.5 times the standard hourly pay
- A 40 hour work week
- Fair child labor protections
- Access to medical leave through the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
It also requires employers to keep a record of employee worked time, which is our area of expertise. By helping you keep an accurate record of employee time and attendance, you can focus less on your FLSA compliance and more on running your business.
To learn more about how the Fair Labor Standards Act impacts your business, you can visit the US Department of Labor website. For more on how Advanced Time can help simplify and improve your labor compliance, check out our compliance page.