The (national) minimum wage for all non-exempt employees of $7.25 per hour. Effective January 1, 2018, the minimum wage for federal contractors working on or in connection with contracts covered by Executive Order 13658 will be $10.35 per hour. States are free to legislate a higher minimum wage. The majority of U.S. states have minimum wage rates above the federal standard. Some cities impose higher minimum wage rates for employees that work for employers in the municipal areas of those cities. For example, in San Francisco, the minimum wage is $15 per hour as of July 2018.
Maximum Working Week
American workplace law does not impose maximum working hours. However, many state statutes mandate daily rest periods as well as a one-day rest period each week; generally requiring that employees who work more than four hours per day receive a break of at least 10 minutes for every hour worked. Also, many states require an unpaid meal break of at least 30 minutes after employees worked a set number of hours per day (threshold working hours generally ranging from five to eight). Furthermore, several states mandate that employee receive at least one day off in each seven-day period.
Non-exempt employees must receive one-and-one-half times (1.5X) their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. Generally, non-working time, including leaves of absence, rest periods, holidays and vacation time, is not counted toward the 40-hour-a-week overtime threshold.
Employer’s Obligation to Provide a Healthy and Safe Workplace
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (“OSHA”) requires employers to provide employees with a safe and healthy place of employment, which is free from recognised hazards (death or serious physical harm). The OSHA regulations govern a wide variety of workplace conditions, and require employers: a) to remedy known workplace hazards; b) to limit the amount of hazardous chemicals workers can be exposed to; c) to use certain safe practices and equipment; and d) to monitor hazards and keep records of workplace injuries and illnesses.
Any employee who believes that he or she has been discharged or retaliated against as a result of engaging in protected activity, such as reporting potentially unsafe working conditions, may file a whistleblower complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The complaint must be filed, however, within 30 days of the discharge or other retaliatory conduct. Thus, in addition to ensuring overall compliance with OSHA safety and health standards, employers need to ensure that they have strong internal programs to encourage employees to voice safety and health complaints and do so without fear of retaliation.