Wisconsin Wage & Overtime Laws

By Grace Ferguson
Employee wages
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Every state has a Department of Labor (DOL), which is responsible for enforcing federal labor laws including minimum wage, overtime pay and record keeping. Consequently, the state of Wisconsin has its own wage and overtime laws, which employers must adhere to when performing payroll tasks.

Regular Hours

The employer is allowed to determine the number of hours and workdays he wants his employees to work. In certain settings, such as factory and mercantile jobs, employers must give their employees at least 1 day of rest within the 7-day workweek. All employees who work for covered establishments must receive 24 straight hours of rest in a calendar week. Employers should check with the state department of labor to know specifically which employees are exempt from this rule. For instance, janitors, watchmen and individuals who work for dairy products manufacturers or distributors are exempt from this law.

The employer can ask the DOL to waive the 1-day rest law if the employee has elected to work. The DOL will then ask the employee if she wishes to work without rest before granting the waiver.


Certain establishments in Wisconsin are exempt from overtime. Industries such as agriculture, domestic help (provided in the employer's home), certain nonprofit organizations and federal agencies are exempt from overtime.

Specific employees are exempt from overtime pay in certain businesses, including employees whose responsibilities include administrative, executive or professional work; outside salespersons who work off-site 80 percent of the time; taxi cab drivers; movie theater employees; and computer programmers, software engineers, or skilled hourly workers in a related field earning a minimum of $27.63 per hour.

Overtime Pay

Employers allowed to pay overtime to qualified employees must do so at time-and-a-half of the employee's regular pay rate for hours of the week exceeding 40. The law has no limit on how many hours per day and per week an adult can work. The employer is allowed to set the work schedule, and the employee cannot refuse to work unless a collective agreement is made. The employer can pay the employee on a salary, commission or piece rate basis but he must convert the employee's income into an hourly pay rate when calculating overtime pay.

Employee Records

The employer is required to keep employees' personnel records for a minimum of 3 years, including personal information such as the employee's name, address, date of birth and employment dates. Payroll records include the number of hours the employee worked each day and week, her pay rate and total income paid each pay date and deduction amounts with corresponding reasons.

If the employee wishes to view her personnel records, the employer cannot refuse her the right to view certain information. He can ask her to submit the request in writing. Thereafter, he has 7 days to allow her to inspect the documents. Documents that the employer has used to determine additional compensation are open to inspection by the employee.

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