In Missouri, a salaried employee is a person who receives a fixed income, no matter how many hours they work in a week. A salaried employee is also called an exempt employee. Salaried employees do not do overtime work and do not receive overtime pay regardless of how many hours they work.
Exempt and Nonexempt Employees Under Federal Law
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not provide a precise definition of who is an exempt employee and who is a nonexempt employee. If a workplace has a human resources office, that office may be able to answer that question. Technical, secretarial, clerical, skilled crafts and trades, and service occupations are typically considered nonexempt.
A nonexempt employee must accurately record their hours worked, which may include recording meal periods and rest breaks.
Nonexempt employees are eligible for overtime and compensatory time. Compensatory time, or comp time, is an arrangement where an employee receives paid time off instead of receiving overtime pay for extra hours worked.
Overtime Requirements in Missouri State
Overtime compensation is based on a 40-hour workweek rather than an eight-hour day. An employer must pay an employee one and one-half times their regular rate of wages for hours over 40 worked in a workweek. An employee who is not being paid correctly can contact the division of labor standards at 573-751-3403 or email their concern to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bringing a Court Action to Collect Wages Due
To start an investigation, the employee should complete the Minimum Wage Complaint Form online. The division will then conduct an investigation. An employee may also pursue a lawsuit in civil court to collect wages due. The appropriate forum for a lawsuit is:
- Small claims court if the money owed is worth $5,000 or less.
- Associate circuit civil court if the money owed is less than $25,000.
- Circuit civil court if the money owed is $25,000 or more.
The division of labor standards cannot pursue an employee’s wage claim in court. An employer who pays below minimum wages is liable for the full amount due less any amount paid, as well as for costs and reasonable attorney's fees as allowed by the court.
Missouri Minimum Wage Law and Tipped Employees
In 2022, Missouri’s minimum wage is $11.15 per hour. In 2023, the state minimum wage will jump to $12 per hour. Minimum wage typically applies to nonexempt employees who are paid by the hour. There is no minimum salary for a salaried employee. The exception is if the salaried employee’s compensation does not equal the minimum wage rate per hour for all hours worked in a workweek.
The Missouri Department of Labor provides that tipped employees must be paid a rate of pay that is half the state minimum wage. In 2022, that is $5.575 per hour. If the tipped employee does not make up the other half of the minimum wage in tips, the employer must pay the difference. The tipped employee must be paid a total of $11.15 per hour. A salaried employee like a casino worker may receive tips.
Breaks and Lunch Hours
Missouri’s labor laws do not require employers to give employees a break of any type, including a lunch hour. This is also true for youth workers under the age of 16. The entertainment industry requires a meal break every five and one-half hours for youth workers. This industry also requires a 15-minute rest period, which is counted as work time, after each two hours of continuous work for youth in this industry.
Work Hours and Travel
An employer can schedule an employee to work any number of hours, with no limit on the minimum or maximum number of hours set. Time commuting from home to the workplace is not work time. Time spent traveling during normal work hours as part of the job is considered work time. Employers must pay for this travel time.
Vacation Pay and Sick Leave for Missouri Employees
In Missouri, employers do not have to give employees vacation pay, holiday pay or severance pay. If the employer has entered into a contract where the benefits are established by agreement, they must adhere to the contract. Employers do not have to offer paid sick leave or any other type of paid leave benefit.
An employer may provide sick and vacation benefits to one group of employees, but not to others, but cannot discriminate based on age, race, sex, religion or national origin.
Wages for Minor Employees
Under Missouri state law, most employers and businesses must pay employees, including youths age 16 and under, at least the state minimum wage rate. They must pay tipped employees at least half of the state minimum wage rate, just as adults.
A youth 16 or under who has not been paid the state minimum wage is eligible to file a wage complaint just like an adult. An employer engaged in a retail or service business whose annual gross income is less than $500,000 is not required to pay the state minimum wage rate.
Illness and FMLA Protections
When an employee misses work because of their own illness, they may qualify for job protections under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). There are no protections under Missouri law as to illness. The FMLA requires covered employers to grant an eligible employee up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for these reasons:
- To take medical leave when the employee cannot work because of a serious health condition.
- To care for an immediate family member, such as a spouse, child or parent, with a serious health condition.
- To give birth and care for the employee’s newborn child.
- For placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care.
Reducing and Deducting Wages
An employer is allowed to reduce an employee’s wages if they give the employee a 30-day advance written notice of the reduction. The notice requirement does not apply if the employee is asked to work fewer hours or change to a different position with different duties. A company that violates this requirement must pay each affected person $50.
The employee can recover the money through court action. An employer may deduct money from an employee’s wages for cash register shortages, damages to equipment and other similar reasons. The deductions must not take the employee’s wage below the minimum hourly wage rate.
- U.S. Department of Labor: Handy Reference Guide to the Fair Labor Standards Act
- Missouri State University: Exempt and Nonexempt Status
- Missouri Department of Labor: Minimum Wage
- Missouri Department of Labor: When Does Overtime Come Into Effect?
- Missouri Department of Labor: Division of Labor Standards, Minimum Wage Complaint Form
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.