Compliance Watch:
What are my rights as an hourly employee in Arkansas?

January 4th 2024

In Arkansas, every hourly employee contributes greatly to the overall employment sector. Thus understanding your rights  is not just about ticking legal boxes. It’s about stepping into a world where you stand tall and feel confident in your overall professional journey.

Each time you clock in and out, it’s not just about the hours and minutes; it’s a testament to your hard work, dedication, and the value you bring to the table. Yet, as with every landscape that changes when you cross state lines, the employment scene in Arkansas has its unique shades. 

You may sometimes wonder, “What are my rights as an hourly employee in Arkansas?” or “How can I stand up for my rights as an hourly employee in Arkansas without causing issues?”

Worry not. This article is crafted especially for you, Arkansas’s hourly workforce. Dive in as we break down Arkansas’s employment rules for hourly employees, ensuring you’re treated right by employers and are prepared to guide your work experience following Arkansas’s state laws.

This Article Covers

Defining an Hourly Employee in Arkansas
Wage and Hour Regulations in Arkansas
Rest Laws in Arkansas
Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Arkansas
Termination of Employment in Arkansas 

Defining an Hourly Employee in Arkansas

What is Hourly Employment in Arkansas?

Hourly employment refers to a work arrangement where employees are compensated based on the number of hours they work. Unlike salaried employees, who receive a consistent amount regardless of the time spent working, hourly workers are directly paid for each hour they clock.

In Arkansas, this arrangement has its specifics. For starters, all hourly employees are entitled to earn at least the state-mandated minimum wage. This means that whether you’re working in a bustling cafe in Little Rock, a quiet bookstore in Fayetteville, or a factory in Fort Smith, your employer is obligated to pay you no less than this set amount for each dedicated hour of work.

It’s also worth noting the importance of timekeeping. Consider, for instance, a lifeguard at a waterpark. To ensure they’re paid correctly for the hours they’ve worked, they might use a timesheet or a digital system to log their start and end times. On the other hand, employers are tasked with the responsibility of verifying these records and ensuring they are accurate.

Another distinguishing feature for hourly employees in Arkansas is the potential for overtime. Let’s say you work at a theme park in Hot Springs. During the peak season (say June to August), you might be asked to work extra hours. If these hours exceed 40 in a week, under Arkansas state law, you’re entitled to overtime pay, which is 1.5 times your regular hourly rate.

What are the Key Differences Between Hourly and Salaried Employees in Arkansas?

Here’s a comparison table highlighting the key differences between hourly and salaried employees in Arkansas:

Aspect Hourly Employees Salaried Employees
Minimum Wage Laws Similar to salaried employees, the minimum wage rate is $11.00/hour The minimum wage rate for a salaried employee is $10.10/ hour.
Overtime Laws Eligible for overtime (1.5 x pay) for hours beyond 40 in a workweek. Exempt under FLSA for certain roles; eligibility for overtime varies.
Severance Pay No, severance pay is not required in Arkansas. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Arkansas severance pay laws do not require severance pay for any employer. Same as hourly employees
Paid Sick Leave & FMLA An hourly employee may be eligible for unpaid leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) if they meet certain criteria. Same as hourly employees.
Paid Vacation Hourly employees may earn paid vacation based on hours worked and specific employer policies. Salaried employees’ pay may include paid vacation; however, specifics generally vary by employer. 
Maternity/

Paternity Leave

No guaranteed paid leave; terms depend on employer’s policies. May have unpaid provisions; duration varies by agreement.
Domestic Violence Leave No law in Arkansas requires domestic violence leave. At the federal level, such cases can fall under the FMLA, permitting up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.  Same as hourly employees.

To learn more about Arkansas labor laws, you can access our guides on understanding your rights as a salaried employee in Arkansas and discover how to run payroll in Arkansas.

Wage and Hour Regulations in Arkansas

What are the Maximum Weekly Working Hours in Arkansas?

In the State of Arkansas, there are no specific or standard state-wise regulations governing the maximum number of hours or days an individual can work in a week. However, it is mandated that all employees must receive compensation at or above the minimum wage for their hours worked. Additionally, for any hours worked beyond 40 hours in a week, employees are entitled to overtime pay at a rate of one and a half times (1.5 times) their regular hourly wage.

What is the Minimum Wage for Hourly Employees in Arkansas?

The Arkansas Minimum Wage Act has set the following hourly rates: $9.25 starting January 1, 2019; $10.00 from January 1, 2020; and $11.00 beginning January 1, 2021 (not changed yet). This law is applicable to businesses with four or more hourly employees. If an employer falls under both the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Arkansas law and has at least four hourly employees, they must adhere to the higher of the two minimum wages.

Overtime pay, typically one and a half times the regular rate, is due to non-exempt employees who work more than 40 hours within a week. It’s important to note that working beyond 8 hours in a day or exceeding a typical shift does not qualify for overtime unless the total hours worked in the week surpass 40. Additionally, hours paid for but not worked, like holidays or sick days, aren’t included in the 40-hour calculation for overtime under both state and federal laws.

How Many Hours Qualify As Overtime and What is the Associated Pay in Arkansas?

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, Arkansas hourly employees (as well as salaried employees) have the right to be compensated for overtime at a rate of at least 1.5 times their standard wage. Typically, this overtime pay applies to hours worked over 40 in a given working week.

Rest Laws in Arkansas

What are the Offered Meal and Rest Breaks for Hourly Employees in Arkansas?

Arkansas doesn’t have specific laws mandating meal or rest breaks for its workers. Instead, employers in Arkansas adhere to the prevailing federal guidelines. This means that, while breaks aren’t explicitly mandated, employers are obligated to compensate employees for any work performed during these periods and for any short breaks taken throughout their workday.

What Laws Govern Time Off and Leaves for Hourly Employees in Arkansas?

In Arkansas, there isn’t a specific statute regarding leave. However, employers might be obligated to offer unpaid leave as dictated by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or other federal regulations. Additionally, employers are not mandated to provide leave for bereavement.

Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Arkansas

What are the Laws Regarding Pay Deductions for Hourly Employees in Arkansas?

In Arkansas, laws governing pay deductions for hourly employees are clear. Deductions that would result in an employee’s wages falling below the minimum wage are not permitted. This means employers cannot make deductions for reasons such as spoilage or breakage, fines due to tardiness, or penalties for quitting without notice. However, there are exceptions to this rule.

Deductions from the minimum wage may be made in cases of court-ordered payments, wage assignments to third parties, or when covering costs related to board, lodging, apparel, or similar expenses. Additionally, there are particular scenarios where the minimum wage might be set lower, such as for workers receiving a tipped minimum wage or for student wage rates.

What are the Hourly Employees Entitlements Under Arkansas State Law?

  • Minimum Wage: In the year 2022 and 2023, the minimum wage for hourly employees in Arkansas is set at $11.00 per hour, which notably surpasses the Federal Minimum Wage of $7.25. Therefore, workers in Arkansas are entitled to receive the higher state minimum wage.
  • Overtime: In the Bear State, Arkansas, it’s mandated that employers provide 1.5 times the regular wage for any hours exceeding 40 worked within a single week by an hourly employee.
  • Severance Pay: Under Arkansas labor regulations, employers aren’t legally obligated to offer severance pay to their hourly employees. However, if they opt to provide such benefits, they must strictly adhere to their established policy or existing employment agreement.
  • Paid Sick Leave: In Arkansas, private employers aren’t mandated to provide paid vacation or sick leave to hourly employees. Nonetheless, they are subject to federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requirements, ensuring compliance with its stipulations for employee benefits.
  • Vacation Time: Arkansas doesn’t mandate employers to grant paid vacation time to hourly employees. Yet, they must adhere to the federal FMLA and fulfill its associated requirements.
  • Paid Maternity/ Paternity Leave: In Arkansas, hourly employees don’t have the right to paid maternity or paternity leave. The availability of such leave is subject to the discretion of the employer and might be outlined in the employment contract or company policies.
  • Domestic Violence: Arkansas currently lacks legislation mandating domestic violence leave for employees. On the federal level, such situations may potentially be covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for employees dealing with severe health conditions resulting from domestic or (sexual) violence.
  • Unemployment Benefits: Hourly employees in Arkansas are entitled to unemployment benefits if they lose their jobs through no fault of their own. The duration and amount vary based on earnings and eligibility, and job search requirements must be met to continue receiving benefits. During the COVID-19 pandemic, federal programs provided additional support.

What are the Provided Hourly Employee Protections Under Arkansas State Law?

In the state of Arkansas, hourly employees are afforded a range of protections to ensure they are treated and compensated fairly. One of the primary protections centers around the minimum wage. Arkansas has set its state-mandated minimum wage at $11.00 per hour. This rate is higher than the federal minimum, and employers in the state are obligated to pay the higher state wage.

Beyond this, while Arkansas does not have specific laws mandating meal or rest breaks, it adheres to federal guidelines, ensuring that any work done during break periods is compensated accurately. On the other hand, overtime provisions are also in place; hourly employees working over 40 hours in a week are entitled to 1.5 times their regular wage for the extra hours worked.

Furthermore, employers are bound by the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), allowing eligible employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. Lastly, while the state doesn’t mandate paid vacation or sick leave for private employers, if an employer offers such benefits, they must adhere to their own policies or employment contracts.

Termination of Employment in Arkansas

What are the Termination Laws for Hourly Employees in Arkansas?

Similar to the majority of states in the USA, Arkansas follows the at-will employment doctrine. Under this framework, an employer has the authority to terminate an employee without any specific cause, whether it’s a valid reason, a poor reason, or no reason at all, as long as the termination doesn’t violate the law. Unless you have entered into a formal employment contract or are a member of a labor union, your employment in Arkansas is generally considered at-will.

Should Severance Pay Be Provided to Hourly Employees in Arkansas?

As discussed in the beginning, employers in Arkansas aren’t legally obligated to give hourly employees severance pay under state labor laws. However, if they opt to provide such benefits, adherence to their existing company policy or employment agreement is mandatory.

Final Thoughts

To wrap up, it’s important for every hourly worker in Arkansas to truly understand their rights. This knowledge isn’t just crucial for your confidence in the workplace, but also to ensure that your rights are protected. With Arkansas’s employment laws always evolving, staying updated with the latest shifts ensures you’re always in the best position to make informed decisions in your professional life.

Important Cautionary Note

When making this guide, we have tried to make it accurate, but we do not give any guarantee that the information provided is correct or up-to-date. We therefore strongly advise you to seek advice from qualified professionals before acting on any information provided in this guide. We do not accept any liability for any damages or risks incurred for the use of this guide.