When President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) into law, it was a landmark and welcome law that originally only applied to about 20% of the labor force (mostly factory workers). The law banned oppressive child labor, set minimum wage at 25 cents per hour, and set a maximum workweek at 44 hours.

Over the past 75 years, the FLSA has morphed into a complex and highly-litigated area of the law that regulates nearly all workplaces. It is now almost universally despised by employers. Decades of amendments have made the FLSA so expansive it requires multi-volume sets of legal treatises to fully comprehend, its nuances ensure almost no employer can fully comply, and plaintiffs’ attorneys crank out lawsuits by the dozens, knowing a single dollar owed entitles them to recover all of the attorney’s fees spent prosecuting the case.

So, in honor of Labor Day, I offer the following thanks for what the Department of Labor has chosen not to regulate (yet):

  1. The FLSA does not require an employer provide vacation days or any holidays off;
  2. The FLSA does not require sick pay or severance pay;
  3. The FLSA does not require provision of meal or rest periods (but it does regulate them, if the employer provide them, and Florida law regulates breaks for minors);
  4. The FLSA does not require premium pay for weekend or holiday work;
  5. The FLSA does not require provision of any fringe benefits or pay raises;
  6. The FLSA does not require a discharge notice, reason for discharge, or immediate payment of final wages to terminated employees (but thorough documentation and prompt payment is recommended);
  7. The FLSA does not limit the number of hours in a day or days in a week an employee may be required or scheduled to work, including overtime hours (so long as the employee is at least 16 years old).

Cheers to the little bit of discretion the FLSA has left to be negotiated between the modern employer and its employees.

Image Courtesy of Leo Reynolds