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Iowa Minimum Wage

Posted by Tamara

The federal and Iowa minimum wage laws require employers to pay employees for all time worked. That seems like a fairly straight-forward requirement, but it can be difficult to determine what counts as time worked.

Under the federal FLSA or Fair Labor Standards Act, work time includes time the employee is “suffered or permitted to work.” This means that if the employee is allowed to work, or works without permission, she must still be paid.

Suppose Tina is an hourly employee whose boss has put a lot of pressure on her to finish a special report by Friday afternoon. On Thursday, Tina stays 5 hours late to complete the report, resulting in her working 45 hours in the payroll week. Tina must be paid for that time, even if her boss did nor grant his permission for her to work late. In fact, even if Tina’s boss specifically forbid her from working overtime, she must be paid for this time because the employer “suffered” her to work. Even if Tina’s boss is at another location and had no way of knowing that Tina was working late, she must be paid for that time.

In general employees must be paid for any time they are required to wait for work on the employer’s premises. Celia is a bike messenger. Her employer requires her to come to the office at 8 am and wait until 4 pm in case any clients need a delivery during those hours. Under federal law, that is “time worked.” Celia is being paid to wait for job duties.

If Celia were allowed to leave the employer’s premises and go about her own duties, that would not be time worked. Even if she were required to carry a pager or cell phone, on-call time is not necessarily time worked. There is no requirement that Celia be paid while she is grocery shopping or at the movies, even if she must carry a pager. However, if Celia is paged, then she must be paid for the time spent on assignment.   


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