Employees entitled to minimum employment rights
Most employers are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which guarantees minimum wage and overtime pay for non-exempt employees. The most common exemptions are for executive, administrative, professional, outside sales, or computer professional employees. To qualify for an exemption, an employee must be paid a fixed salary of at least US$455/week (US$23,660 annually) and must meet the applicable "duties" test for the exemption at issue. However, the DOL has issued a proposed rule that would increase the minimum salary threshold to qualify for exemption from the overtime provisions of the FLSA to US$679/week
(US$35,308 annually), which would become effective January 1, 2020. Some states impose additional wage and hour requirements above the FLSA requirements (eg, Oregon); where state laws are more favorable to employees, the state law requirements will apply.
There is no federal limit on the number of hours per day or per week that an employee over the age of 16 can work (although there are overtime pay requirements, as discussed below). There are restrictions on child labor and in certain professions (eg, airline pilots, drivers), and hours may be limited by a collective bargaining agreement (with a labor union). In some states, certain employers are required to give their workers one day off each week.
Generally, non-exempt employees must be paid 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. Overtime must be calculated on a weekly basis, and cannot be "averaged" over a period of 2 or more weeks. In some states (such as California), additional overtime is required in certain circumstances (eg, more than 8 hours per day).
All non-exempt employees must be paid at least the federal minimum wage, which presently is US$7.25 per hour. Some states and cities have higher minimum wage requirements, such as California US$11.00 or US$12.00 per hour (depending on employer size), with scheduled annual increases up to US$15.00 per hour by 2022 or 2023 (depending on the size of the employer) and New York (ranging from US$11.10 to US$15.00 per hour, with incremental raises to US$12.50 or US$15.00 per hour by the end of 2019, 2020 or 2021, depending on the size of the employer and the location within the state). Many states and territories have a current minimum wage above US$10.00 per hour (and many cities have even higher current minimum wages) and/or have passed legislation that will raise the minimum wage above US$10.00 per hour within in the next 5 years, with several raising minimum wage to US$15.00 per hour.
There is no statutory requirement to provide paid vacation or holiday to any employees. Most employers will adopt a vacation or paid time off policy. Once such a policy is adopted, many states will treat accrued vacation or paid time off as wages that cannot be withheld or taken away.
Sick leave & pay
There is no federally mandated right to paid sick leave. Employers with 50 or more workers generally have to provide eligible employees unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for up to 12 weeks in any given year due to a serious health condition of the employee or his/her family members, or for a qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that a family member is a covered military member or on covered active duty, and for up to 26 weeks to care for a family member who is a covered military member. Employers also may be required to provide unpaid leave (for at least some period of time) as a reasonable accommodation to a qualified employee with a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Certain states and local jurisdictions (eg, Washington state, California, New York City, Dallas) have established what is likely the beginning of a trend imposing more generous leave requirements and requiring additional benefits like paid sick leave.
Maternity/parental leave & pay
There is no federally mandated right to paid maternity/parental leave. Under the FMLA, employers with 50 or more workers generally have to provide eligible employees unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child, or to care for a newborn or a newly-placed child, for up to 12 weeks in any given year. Certain states and local jurisdictions have more generous leave requirements. In certain states, employees who are temporarily disabled for medical reasons, including pregnancy and childbirth, are eligible to receive partial wage replacement in the form of temporary disability insurance benefits (and employers may be required to enroll in state-provided or state-sponsored insurance plans to cover the payments, eg, in New York, or contributions may be deducted from employees' paychecks, eg, in California).