When both the federal and Arkansas minimum wage apply to an employee, the employee is entitled to protection under whichever confers the greater benefit. In this case, an employee covered by both the Arkansas and federal minimum wage is entitled to the higher federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
The federal minimum wage does not cover every Arkansas employee. The federal minimum wage and overtime law is the FLSA or Fair Labor Standards Act. The FLSA applies to every employee of a business with $500,000 or more in annual revenue.
In addition, individual employees (more…)
Wal-Mart, Inc. has just realized that infringing the federal and Arkansas overtime laws can prove a costly business. Other employers would do well to familiarize themselves with appropriate employment laws related to the payment of minimum wages and in particular, those relating to overtime payments.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, workers are entitled to overtime payments of 1.5 times their hourly rate, for each hour they work over a standard 40 hour week. But if you are regularly employing people who you require to work over 40 hours, then you should also make sure that you understand where the law stands regarding incentive and premium payments to your employees.
Under the Act, employees are entitled to 1.5 times their usual hourly rate when they work over 40 hours per week. The usual hourly rate may differ from their base hourly rate. And it is an important difference that could end up costing you dearly if you miscalculate as a result.
An example of how this works is, if an employee has a base hourly rate of $6.00 per hour, but with incentives or premium payments usually earns $7.00 per hour, then they are entitled to 1.5 the hourly rate $7.00, not as you may assume, $6.00.
Wal-Mart has been found guilty of making this mistake. The US Dept of Labor has recently reported that Wal-Mart Stores has agreed to pay more than $33 million in back wages, after being found to have violated federal and Arkansas minimum wage laws.
As well as violating minimum wage laws, they were found to have miscalculated overtime payments to many of their employees, as set out by the Fair Labor Standards Act. The $33 million covers back payment of wages for 86,680 employees, and cover a period from February 1, 2002 and January 19, 2007.
Speaking about the judgment, The Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment Standard, Victoria A. Lipnic said, “This settlement provide $33 million in back wages, lust interest to Wal-Mart workers, and the company has taken corrective action to prevent this from happening again.”
Wal-Mart recently agreed to pay more than $33 million to some 86,680 employees for violations of the overtime provisions of federal and Arkansas minimum wage laws. The company uncovered the violations during an internal audit, and voluntarily disclosed them to the US Dept. of Labor.
On the brighter side, Wal-Mart recently announced plans to pay over $530 million in bonuses to hourly workers. The annual bonuses are separate from management incentives. A total of 813,759 part-time and full-time workers at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club retail outlets are eligible for the bonuses, which average $651 per employee. According to Wal-Mart spokesperson Sarah Clark, the bonuses are part of a program that has been in place for a decade, although this year’s amount is the highest ever paid. The company also announced separate bonus programs for employees who deliver exceptional customer service, and for workers with more than 20 years on the job. According to Clark, in future years the bonuses will be divided into quarterly payments, rather than paid on an annual basis.
Wal-Mart is headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas and is the nation’s largest retailer. The corporation operates almost 4,000 stores in the country, including Wal-Mart Discount Stores, Neighborhood Markets, Sam’s Club warehouse stores and Wal-Mart Super centers. The company was founded by Sam Walton, famous for his homespun wisdom and unassuming manner.
In recent years, however, the company has faced a number of legal woes including allegations that some managers locked employees in the stores at night to prevent theft.
As part of this settlement, the retail giant has agreed to pay interest on the back wages, and to correct it’s payroll accounting in the future. To finalize the agreement, the Labor Department filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Fort Smith, Arkansas, against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. The complaint alleges violations of the FLSA overtime provisions as well as state minimum wage laws. A consent judgment ordering the company to pay back wages and enjoining it from further violations was filed at the same time. The consent judgment was promptly approved by the court.
“We are pleased that we were able to help these workers get back the pay they deserve,” said US Secretary of Labor, Elaine L. Chao.
She was speaking after a two-year investigation in violations of the federal and Arkansas minimum wage laws, by a Huston based tree-trimming company. The company has been ordered to pay 2,501 employees, $1.8 million dollars in overtime pay, following the investigation by the Dept. of Labor.
The investigation lasted from August 2004 through to August 2006 after an employee of ABC Professional Tree Services complained. The Dept. of Labor found that as well as violating minimum wage laws in 16 states, they also fell foul of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The total ABC Professional Tree Services agreed to pay amounted to $1,801,507.
The U.S. Secretary of Labor, (Elaine L. Chao), assured the public that “the department will continue our efforts to ensure that employers are paying workers properly.”
ABC Professional Tree Services are current paying back overtime wages to employees in the following U.S. states.
New York, Maine, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, South Carolina, Ohio, North Caroline, Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana and Arkansas.
A portion of the back wages will be paid to workers who were involved with the clean up operation after Hurricane Katrina. ABC Professional Tree Services provides clean up services after natural disasters, as well as tree trimming and cutting around power lines.
Employees covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act are entitled to be paid a minimum wage of $5.15 per hour for the first 40 hours worked each week. If an employee works over 40 hours a week, then they are entitled to and hourly rate of time-and-one-half for each hour worked.
The FLSA also requires that employers must keep accurate payroll records documenting the number of hours worked by an employee each week.
When Howard Johnson’s was found guilty of underpaying their staff by not paying overtime to those who were salaried yet worked more than 40 hours a week, in the early 1980’s, you would have thought that companies would take note.
But Wal-Mart, Inc. is another company who has had to settle a suit with the US Dept of Labor after violating federal and Arkansas minimum wage laws. They now have to repay staff back wages, plus interest. This affects nearly 87,000 workers in Arkansas and throughout the United States and amounts to $33 million.
So how can you make sure you do not fall prey to such companies?
Well, as a general rule of thumb, if you earn less than $445 per week, or $23,000 per year, then you are entitled to overtime payments if you work more than 40 hours a week. This applies even if you are salaried.
The ruling regarding Wal-Mart, was that even though they employed trainee managers, intern and programmers on a salary basis, they were still entitled to overtime pay when they were required to work long hours. Even if their salary exceeded the above amounts, they were entitled to overtime as they did not have significant decision making powers.
Some companies try and get around the federal and Arkansas minimum wage laws by employing so called “managers” but do not give them decision making powers, or a salary that would come with them. The employees that worked for Wal-Mart were stated as being “non-exempt salaried” workers, which meant that they were entitled to overtime pay.
This can apply to any form of work, not just stores. If you are salaried, even if it amounts to over $23,660 per year, yet do not have decision-making powers within the store, department of division, then you may be entitled to overtime compensation if your hours amount to more than 40 per week.