Wage & Hour Laws -- Employee
The minimum wage for Arkansas, beginning Jan. 1, 2015, increased to $7.50 per hour. This increase was the first change to the Arkansas’ minimum wage since 2006, when the amount was set at $6.25. The increase, which was voted on and approved this past Nov. 4, 2014, also includes an increase to $8.00 per hour on Jan. 1, 2016, and an increase to $8.50 on Jan. 1, 2017.
This year’s increase puts Arkansas’ minimum wage above the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour. Employees who are eligible for coverage under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as the state minimum wage, will be paid the higher of the two amounts; in Arkansas, the minimum wage of $7.50 would apply, since it is higher than the FLSA minimum wage amount.
For the most part, any employer in Arkansas, who has more than four employees, is covered under the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act, and must pay their employees at least the minimum wage; however, here are some employees who may be exempt from the minimum wage requirement in a business employing more than four employees. These would include:
Full-time employed students, who have provided their employer with a Student Certificate of Eligibility, provided by the Arkansas Department of Labor, may receive a reduced rate of the minimum wage standard. These students who are employed, but required to work less than 20 hours a week during school-term weeks, and may work 40 hours a week when school is not in session, are entitled to be paid no less than 85 percent of the state’s minimum wage. If the student is in a position where gratuity is received, the employee must be paid the same base wage as any other tipped employee.
In Arkansas, tipped employees, such as waitresses, waiters, bellhops, car wash attendants, and all others who receive gratuity in addition to their salary, must be paid no less than $2.63 per hour. However, the tips or gratuity received must be enough to make their “per hour” salary equal to the minimum wage or more. If it does not bring them up to the minimum wage amount, the employer must make up the difference.
Sometimes employers furnish their employees with items such as housing, clothing, food or other amenities. In return, they want to deduct the cost of those items from the employee’s salary. In these circumstances, the employer cannot pay an employee less than what they would have received from the minimum wage amount per hour less thirty cents ($.30) per hour.
In Arkansas, most employees are subject to the same overtime laws as the federal government imposes under the FLSA. An employer must compensate one’s employee time and a half for any hours that exceed 40 hours in one workweek period.
Exceptions for those to whom overtime pay is required are similar to those exempt from the minimum wage laws. Professional, administrative, executive and computer technicians may be paid on a salary basis; however, the salary can not be less than the amount of $455 per week. These exemptions are not decided by job titles, but by job duties and salary. Certain requirements and tests must be met.
It is important for employees in Arkansas to know and understand the wage and employment laws of their state. Employees also need to understand their legal rights when an employer is unfairly compensating them.