The Wage and Hour Division was created with the enactment of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938. The Division is responsible for the administration and enforcement of a wide range of laws which collectively cover virtually all private and State and local government employment. The Division has a nationwide staff of investigators, supervisors, and technical and clerical employees responsible for enforcing FLSA, Government Contracts labor standards statutes, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 also provided certain additional enforcement responsibilities to be undertaken by the Wage and Hour Division staff.
FLSA: The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the federal law commonly known for minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor, recordkeeping, and special minimum wage standards applicable to most private and public employees. FLSA provides the agency with civil and criminal remedies, and also includes provisions for individual employees to file private lawsuits. The 1989 Amendments to FLSA added a provision for civil money penalties (CMP) for repeated or willful minimum wage or overtime violations. (Since 1974, FLSA has contained a similar CMP provision for child labor violations.)
FMLA: The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons. At the employee's or employer's option, certain kinds of paid leave may be substituted for unpaid leave. Employees are eligible if they have worked for a covered employer for at least one year, and for 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months, and if there are at least 50 employees within 75 miles. The employee may be required to provide advance leave notice and medical certification. For the duration of FMLA leave, the employer must maintain the employee's health coverage under any group health plan. Upon return from FMLA leave, most employees must be restored to their original or equivalent positions with equivalent pay, benefits, and other employment terms.
The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is authorized under 29 U.S.C. 207, et seq. to administer and enforce a variety of laws that establish the minimum standards for wages and working conditions in the United States. Collectively, these labor standards cover most private, state, and local government employment. WHD’s mission is to “promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the Nation’s workforce.” WHD is instrumental in promoting access to opportunities— opportunities for employers to compete on a level playing field; opportunities for workers to move into the middle class; and opportunities for workers to balance their family and work obligations. WHD has a nationwide staff of investigators, supervisors, analysts, technicians, and administrative employees who share responsibility for enforcing and administering the minimum wage, overtime, child labor, and break time for nursing mothers provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA); the prevailing wage requirements and wage determination provisions of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts (DBRA) and the McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA); the wages and working conditions under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA); the job protections of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA); and the Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA). WHD also enforces the field sanitation and temporary labor camp standards in agriculture and certain employment standards and worker protections of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). These laws protect over 135 million workers in more than 7.3 million establishments throughout the United States and its territories.
Government Contracts: The Government Contracts statutes set labor standards for wages and hours of work for employees who work on contracts with the Federal government. The Davis-Bacon and Related Acts (DBA) & (DBRA) cover workers on Federal construction contracts, and on construction contracts with State and local governments that are Federally financed or assisted, in whole or in part. The McNamara-O'Hara Service Contract Act (SCA) applies to workers on Federal service contracts, and the Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act (PCA) applies to workers on Federal supply contracts.