In Indiana, state labor laws are found in Title 22 of the state’s Labor and Safety Code. Indiana has fewer protections than do a number of states for workers.
Since there are no state employment laws on many subjects, such as rest periods, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the basic guidelines for worker protections in the state. For example, as of 2022, Indiana’s minimum wage is the same as the federal minimum wage, $7.25 an hour.
Time Off Between Shifts
Indiana does not have laws that relate to time off between shifts so there is no required minimum number of hours between shifts. Certain industries, like transportation and trucking, have unique safety rules that require a certain number of hours between shifts.
For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration prohibits property-carrying drivers from driving more than 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. Passenger-carrying drivers may not drive more than 10 hours after eight consecutive hours off duty.
What Time Must Be Paid
An employer is required to pay an employee for time spent on the job when the employee is subject to the employer’s control and direction. Typically, such time is only the actual time worked, including mandatory meetings. An employer is not required to pay an employee for sick days, personal days and holidays.
An employer is generally given discretion as to whether they will pay for accrued vacation time. Accrued vacation time is usually considered compensation. A former employee who leaves their job is typically entitled to a pro rata share of their accrued vacation time when they are terminated.
If there is a company policy or employment contract stipulating that certain conditions must be met before accrued vacation pay will be paid, they must be met in order for the former employee to get paid.
No Compensation for On-call Time
An employee who is required to remain on call at home or allowed to leave a message where they can be reached is not considered to be working, so Indiana law does not require the employer to compensate them for such time. An employee who is required to remain on call while on an employer’s premises is considered to be working and must be compensated for their time.
Sending Employee Home Early
When an employer sends an employee home early from a shift, the employer has to pay the employee only for the hours the employee actually worked. The employer may order the employee to leave early without having to pay the employee for the remainder of the shift.
If there is no collective bargaining agreement (CBA) or contract providing otherwise, an employer may set their work hour policies at their own discretion.
Indiana Meal and Rest Breaks
Indiana break laws are nonexistent in that the state does not require employers to provide any meal breaks or rest breaks. Certain categories of workers like airline pilots are entitled to mandatory breaks by regulations applicable to their industry or by contract. The appropriate regulatory agency for the industry or a union representative can answer questions about meal and rest breaks.
Indiana’s Overtime Pay Laws
Indiana does not have worker protections for overtime. If there is no collective bargaining agreement or contract in place regarding overtime, an employer in Indiana can require an employee to work overtime.
There are no laws that define how much notice an employer must give an employee regarding an overtime requirement or how many hours an employee has to work in one shift. Some industries, such as transportation, have safety rules that require hour limits.
An employee does not get paid overtime if they work over eight hours in a day. Federal and state laws only require payment of overtime if an employee works over 40 hours in a work week.
Holiday and Weekend Work
An employer can require an employee to work on holidays or weekends. An employer may pay more for an employee to work at those times, but this is not required. Under the FLSA, an employee who is overtime-eligible and works over 40 hours in a week must be compensated at one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for all time worked over 40 hours.
Regulations for Indiana Government Employees
Employees of the Indiana state government are divided into two categories, exempt employees and non-exempt employees. Their classification determines whether they will be paid overtime wages.
Exempt employees, individuals employed in an executive, administrative or professional capacity, are not covered by federal minimum wage and overtime compensation laws. Non-exempt employees, or overtime-eligible employees, are covered by such laws.
State Employee Working Hours
Most state employees work a standard calendar week that begins at 12 a.m. on Sunday and ends 168 consecutive hours later at 12 a.m. on Saturday. Hours worked during that time period in excess of 40 hours will be compensated at premium rate, or time-and-a-half rate.
Premium rate is one-and-one-half multiplied by the employee’s regular hourly rate. The exception is state employees in law enforcement or firefighting who are subject to a different work period.
Overtime work must usually be approved in advance. Public safety and emergencies often require retroactive approval consistent with agency policy. State employees are prohibited from working additional hours without authorization. They should notify supervisors in advance if they cannot meet deadlines or complete assignments during assigned work hours.
Indiana Is a Right-to-Work State
Indiana became a right-to-work state in 2012. The Indiana Right-to-Work law provides that no employer, labor organization or person can require an individual to become or stay a member of a labor organization. Such parties also cannot force an individual to pay dues, fees, assessments or charitable donation substitutes as a condition of new or continued employment.
An individual who is forced to engage in such behavior to keep their job can bring a civil lawsuit. There is also an administrative remedy by the Indiana Department of Labor (DOL). Violations of the law are considered criminal, and a prosecutor can charge people or organizations criminally for violations.
The right-to-work law does not apply to CBAs in place on or before March 14, 2012. It does not prohibit exclusive pre-hire agreements with labor unions in the building and construction trades.
Wage Claim Form
An employee with a wage dispute should file an online wage claim form with the state DOL. The DOL essentially functions as the Indiana labor board for resolving such disputes. The department cannot guarantee compensation or job protection as a result of filing. To file a complaint, an employee will need certain information:
- Employee name, mailing address and phone number.
- Employer name, mailing address and phone number.
- Gross amount of claim.
- Length of employment with dates.
- Type of claim, such as nonpayment or overtime.
- Dates and hours worked if claiming nonpayment.
- Signature of employee and date.
Department of Labor Wage Claim Exceptions
DOL will not process the claim if any of the following is true:
- Amount claimed is payment for time not actually worked, such as severance pay or sick pay.
- Former employer has filed for bankruptcy. The employee should contact the bankruptcy court.
- Employer does not have a location in Indiana.
- Individual worked as an independent contractor. In this situation, the individual should consult an attorney.
- Individual has begun private legal action such as a civil lawsuit to recover the wages claimed.
- Individual was employed by the state of Indiana. The individual should contact the Indiana State Personnel Department.
- Claim is against a business in which they were an owner or partner.
The minimum amount of a wage claim is $30; the maximum amount is $6,000. An employee who believes they are owed over $6,000 in wages should consult a private attorney. An employee’s final wages must be paid on or before the next regularly scheduled payday on which the person would normally have been paid had they remained employed.
An employee whose paycheck is insufficient – it only compensates them for some of the time they worked – may cash the check and then go after the unpaid wages. There is no penalty for cashing the check. If an employer has not paid an employee and files for bankruptcy, the former employee should file a claim in bankruptcy court.
Resolving a Wage Dispute
It can take as long as 90 days to resolve wage disputes. If the DOL accepts the wage claim, it will correspond directly with the employer. The employer has two weeks to mail a check directly to the employee or to dispute the claim.
If the employer does not respond, DOL will send a final notice allowing one additional week for response. If there is still no response, DOL will send the employee a copy of the wage claim file with a letter recommending that the employee consult an attorney or pursue a claim in the appropriate court.
If the employer disputes the amount claimed, DOL will make a determination based on Indiana law and all evidence presented. If DOL cannot make a determination, DOL will send the individual a notice with a letter recommending they consult an attorney or pursue a claim in the appropriate court.
Who Is an Independent Contractor?
Indiana labor laws consider a person to be an independent contractor if they are considered to be an independent contractor under IRS guidelines. The IRS holds that people like doctors, dentists, veterinarians, lawyers and accountants who are in an independent trade, business or profession where they offer their services to the general public are generally independent contractors.
An individual is typically an independent contractor if they have the right to control the result of the work, not what will be done and how it will be done.
An individual is not an independent contractor if they perform services that can be controlled by an employer, such as what will be done and how it will be done. This is true even if the person being directed is given freedom of action. What is significant is whether the employer has the legal right to control the details of how the person performs the services.
Discipline, Suspension and Termination
An employer may terminate an employee for no reason unless there is a CBA or contract that states otherwise. An employer may hire, fire, promote or demote an employee as they fit. An employer may not discriminate against an employee due to the employee’s age, sex, race, religion, national origin or disability.
An employee can be fired even if they have a doctor’s note. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides some protection for employees who take time off for illness.
Indiana’s Blacklisting Law
Indiana’s blacklisting law only allows employers to disclose truthful facts about an employee’s termination. An individual who believes their former employer made untrue statements about them is required to ask for copies of any written correspondence from a former employer to a potential employer within 30 days of applying for a job with the potential employer.
If a company is found to have disclosed untruthful statements about the former employee, they will be liable to that employee for an amount that would fully compensate the former employee. The court may add exemplary damages, also called punitive damages, to the amount.
Indiana limits exemplary damages to three times the amount of compensatory damages awarded in the action or $50,000, whichever is greater.
- Indiana Department of Labor: Wage and Hour FAQs
- Indiana Department of Labor: Right-to-Work
- Indiana Department of Labor: Online Wage Claim Form
- Worker's Compensation Board of Indiana: Independent Contractors
- IRS: Independent Contractor Defined
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: Summary of Hours of Service Regulations
- Indiana State Personnel Department: Hours of Work and Overtime
- U.S. Department of Labor: Wages and the Fair Labor Standards Act
- Indiana Department of Labor: Blacklisting
- Findlaw for Indiana Code: Indiana Civil Law and Procedure Section 34-51-3-4
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.