The federal Fair Labor Standards Act was enacted in 1938 to regulate working conditions for employees. The act contains regulations pertaining to minimum wage, overtime pay, exempt classification and employer obligations for both salaried and hourly employees. When individual states adopt the federal wage and hour laws, some hand over jurisdiction of all wage and hour matters to the federal government. Alabama is one such state that doesn't have its own set of wage and hour laws.
The Alabama Department of Labor has one function: investigating claims for employees who don't receive wage payments from their employers. Alabama's Department of Labor webpage clearly states that the department leaves enforcement of wage and hour laws covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act up to the U.S. Department of Labor.
As of 2011, the minimum wage for employees in Alabama is $7.25 per hour. In the event the Alabama state legislature were to pass a law that raises the minimum wage to an amount higher than the federal law, employers would be required to the pay the higher wage in favor of employees. For tipped employees, Alabama's law is the same as the federal law, which is $2.13 per hour.
Because Alabama's wage and hour laws mirror the federal laws, overtime pay in Alabama follows federal guidelines. Employees who work more than 40 hours in a workweek must be compensated for overtime at the rate of 1 1/2 times their regular rate. For example, assume an employee earns $26 an hour and works 47 hours during the workweek. That employee is entitled to 40 hours of pay at $26 per hour, which equals $1,040; she's also entitled to payment of seven hours overtime at the rate of $39 per hour, which is $273. In this scenario, her total gross earnings would be $1,313 for the week.
Employers aren't required to give employees rest breaks or meal breaks, although most do because it's a standard industry practice to give employees an opportunity to rejuvenate themselves throughout the workday. The U.S. Department of Labor indicates that short breaks -- five to 20 minutes -- are part of the workday and are therefore compensable. However, employers don't have to pay hourly employees for meal breaks of 30 minutes or longer. Alabama employers who give their employees meal breaks can deduct the time from an hourly employee's pay. Additionally, companies that employ more than 50 workers must give nursing mothers time away from their workstations to express milk. This time doesn't have to be paid if it falls outside the traditional five- to 20-minute breaks that employers typically give employees.
Hourly employees receive compensation based on the number of hours they work, which means thatif they don't work, they don't receive pay. However, one exception to the hours-worked law concerns jury duty. When an hourly employee is summoned to jury duty, Alabama employers are required to compensate that employee for hours the employee would have worked had he not been called for jury duty. The employer isn't required to pay the employee for overtime hours the employee usually works.