Compliance Watch:
What are my rights as a salaried employee in Arkansas?

January 8th 2024

Understanding your rights as a salaried employee extends beyond merely learning Arkansas labor laws; it acts as a means to empower yourself to navigate your career path with confidence.

As you put in your hours every day, the consistent pay you receive defines your position in the workplace. However, it’s important to note that the specifics of these arrangements can vary significantly from one U.S. state to another.

This article aims to provide guidance by addressing the questions that have sparked your interest. We will explore the intricacies of your rights, guiding you towards a more informed and empowered professional journey that aligns with the unique regulations of Arkansas.

This Article Covers:

Defining a Salaried Employee in Arkansas
Common Questions About Salaried Employee Rights in Arkansas
Understanding Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Status in Arkansas
Wage and Hour Regulations in Arkansas
Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Arkansas
Taking Action Against Violations in Arkansas
Case Studies and Real-Life Scenarios of Salaried Employee Rights Violations in Arkansas

Defining a Salaried Employee in Arkansas

What is Salaried Employment in Arkansas?

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Arkansas labor laws, a salaried employee is any worker who receives a predetermined amount as compensation at agreed intervals.

Arkansas salaried employees laws state that salaried employees should be paid twice a month but corporations with an annual gross income of $500,000 or more can pay their executive and management-level employees once a month. Regardless of the pay period, salaried employees can receive their pay in cash, check, or a direct deposit into their bank accounts. 

In Arkansas, the fixed compensation for salaried employees may also include compensated sick leave, which accrues to employees who work for a minimum of 1000 days in one work year. Further, many salaried individuals often meet the eligibility criteria for 12 weeks of unpaid leave as per the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). 

The FLSA categorizes specific employees as exempt, notably many salaried personnel, particularly those in managerial roles, executives, administrators, professionals, and computer science staff. If you are a salaried employee but do not hold one of these positions, you may fall in the non-exempt category, making you eligible for overtime compensation.

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

Aspect Salaried Employees Hourly Employees
Pay Structure Receive a fixed salary once or twice a month. Paid an hourly wage.
Overtime Eligibility Generally exempt from overtime with a few exceptions. Eligible for overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times their hourly rate. Hourly employees of public agencies can opt for compensatory time at a rate of 1.5 hours for every hour.
Work Hours Often expected to work set hours as defined in the contract of employment. Hours may vary.
Records Typically not required to record hours worked but records of an employee’s name, address, and salary paid for every pay period should be kept for at least three years. Hours worked must be recorded in addition to the employees’ names, addresses, and wages paid for every pay period. 
Job Stability Generally have more job stability due to protections under the FLSA. May have less job security.
Pay Consistency Consistent income regardless of hours worked and quality of work. Income can fluctuate based on hours worked.
Paid Time Off (PTO) Often receive sick leave as per the FMLA and may accrue paid annual leave as per the Arkansas Code. May not be eligible for paid leave.

Please note that these differences can vary based on the specific job, employer policies, and employment agreements. Additionally, labor laws and regulations can change, so it’s important to consult your employment contract, seek legal counsel, or contact the Arkansas Department of Labor and Licensing for the most accurate information.

Common Questions About Salaried Employee Rights in Arkansas

What are the Basic Rights of Salaried Employees in Arkansas?

Here are your rights as a salaried employee in Arkansas according to state labor and employment law:

  • Minimum Wage: Based on their status as exempt or non-exempt, salaried employees in Arkansas are entitled to either the minimum threshold for exempt employees as established by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or the state’s minimum wage rate of $11 per hour. 
  • Overtime Pay: Under the FLSA and Arkansas state laws, salaried employees are generally entitled to overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times their regular hourly rate for time worked above 40 hours in a workweek, unless they are exempt employees. Eligible employees of public agencies have the option of accruing comp time in lieu of overtime pay. 
  • Equal Pay: Salaried employees in the state have the right to receive equal pay for equal work regardless of gender. Employers who violate this law are guilty of a Class C misdemeanor.
  • Leave: Salaried state employees in Arkansas are eligible for paid sick leave, which accrues at a rate of one day for every month worked in the first three years of employment. Further, eligible employees have the right to take unpaid leave for certain family or medical reasons under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
  • Whistleblower Protection: Employees have the right to report illegal activities or safety violations without fear of retaliation. The state’s Whistleblower Protection Act protects whistleblowers from adverse actions such as termination of employment, threats, and denial of promotions, privileges, or compensation.  
  • Meal and Rest Breaks: Arkansas law requires employers who provide rest breaks of 20 minutes or less to compensate employees for them. Additionally, employees who get longer breaks for meals should either be compensated for the time or relieved of their duties completely for the entire duration of the break. 
  • Time Off for Civic Duties: Employees have the right to take time off work to vote or serve in juries without using up their sick leave, vacation days, or other types of leave. Employers who violate these rights are liable for fines 
  • Anti-Discrimination and Harassment: Salaried employees are protected from discrimination and harassment based on race, gender, religion, national origin, disability, pregnancy, and age. Further, employees are protected from retaliation for reporting incidents of harassment and discrimination.

Please keep in mind that employment laws can change, and additional rights and protections beyond those listed here may exist. Therefore, if you have specific concerns or questions about your rights as a salaried employee in Arkansas, it’s advisable to seek legal counsel or check with the state’s labor department for the most up-to-date information and guidance.

Is Overtime Pay Applicable to Salaried Employees in Arkansas?

 Yes. While some salaried employees are not eligible for overtime pay, others qualify for overtime pay for time worked above 40 hours in a workweek. Being salaried does not automatically exempt you from overtime. That said, Arkansas overtime laws categorize the following types of salaried employees as exempt and, therefore, ineligible for overtime pay if they earn $684 per week ($35,568 annually) or more:

  • Executive Employees: Bona fide executive employees who manage a company or one of its departments or subdivisions, oversee at least two full-time employees, and have the authority to hire or fire employees are not eligible for overtime.
  • Administrative Employees: Bona fide administrative employees who perform non-manual duties that are directly related to management or business operations of the employer and exercise discretion and independent judgment regarding significant matters in the company are exempt.
  • Professional Employees: Overtime pay does not apply to bona fide professional employees in some fields if their work requires advanced knowledge, education, and skill. As per Arkansas labor laws, some computer employees fall under this category.
  • Outside Sales Employees: Employees who make sales and spend most of their time away from the employer’s place of business may not qualify for overtime pay in Arkansas.
  • Highly Compensated Employees: Employees who earn a total annual compensation above a certain threshold and perform either administrative, executive, or professional duties may be ineligible for overtime. 

Notably, people who hold elective office or serve as advisors to elected officials in the state are not eligible for overtime. It is important to note that the criteria and salary thresholds for these exemptions may change over time. To stay informed, consult the Arkansas Department of Labor and Licensing or seek legal counsel.

Can Employers Deduct Wages from Salaried Employees in Arkansas?

Arkansas state laws allow employers to make deductions from employees’ salaries if they are authorized by the employee in writing or required by the law. Therefore, an employer can make the following deductions from your salary:

  • Taxes: An employer is allowed to deduct state and federal taxes from an employee’s salary. Based on your income, your employer can deduct up to 5.9% of your salary as state income tax. You can confirm the amount of income tax your employer should deduct from your pay from this table.
  • Court-Ordered Wage Garnishments: Employers in Arkansas are obliged to comply with court orders demanding wage deductions for child support, bankruptcy proceedings, and other payments to third parties.
  • Voluntary Wage Assignments: Employers are allowed to comply with employee orders to make deductions for insurance premiums, the purchase of savings bonds, charitable donations, and union dues.

The state explicitly prohibits employers from making the following non-standard deductions from the salary of an employee who earns minimum wage:

  • Deductions for losses from breakage and spoilage
  • Deductions for the recovery of cash losses and inventory shortages
  • Fines and penalties for tardiness
  • Quitting without notice

Are Salaried Employees Eligible for Breaks and Leaves in Arkansas?

Under Arkansas state laws, employers are not required to provide breaks for salaried employees. The only employees who are eligible for breaks in the state are minors aged 16 and below working in the entertainment industry.

However, employers can choose to allow employees to take short periods of rest during the workday. It is worth noting that if an employer offers rest periods, breaks of up to 20 minutes are considered compensable time. Longer breaks can be unpaid if the employees are relieved of their duties for the entire duration of the break.

Can Salaried Employees Request Flexible Work Arrangements in Arkansas?

Arkansas state laws do not limit a workday to 8 hours but limit a workweek to 40 hours. Therefore, employers in the state are at liberty to offer flexible working arrangements to employees. 

Some common flexible working arrangements in Arkansas include an alternate work schedule that allows employees to work more than 40 hours in one week and less than 40 hours the next and remote working arrangements that allow employees to work away from the office as long as they meet all their work obligations.

Understanding Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Status in Arkansas

Salaried employees must learn the difference between exempt and non-exempt status to understand their rights and responsibilities.

What is the Definition of Exempt Status in Arkansas?

Arkansas defers to the FLSA for the definition of exempt status. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, exempt status refers to an employee’s exemption from overtime laws. Therefore, exempt employees do not qualify for and are not eligible for overtime pay even if they work for more than 40 hours in one workweek or more than 80 hours in a pay period. Essentially, exempt employees are not bound by overtime laws.

In addition to not being eligible for overtime, exempt employees are subject to a salary threshold. As per the FLSA, exempt status guarantees employees a minimum salary of $684 a week or $35,568 annually.

What are the Implications of Exempt Status in Arkansas?

Exempt status has the following implications on an employee:

  • Overtime Exemption: Salaried exempt employees do not receive extra compensation for working beyond the overtime eligibility threshold of 40 hours a week for employees with regular work schedule or 80 hours for every two weeks for employees under flexible working arrangements. 
  • Fixed Salary: Exempt employees in Arkansas typically earn a predetermined salary paid once or twice a month.This guarantees them a stable income but denies them extra pay for fluctuations in workload.
  • Minimum Salary Requirements: Exempt employees in Arkansas must meet the FLSA’s minimum salary threshold of $684 a week, which adds up to $1368 for employees who receive their pay twice a month or $2736 for employees who are paid once a month.
  • Job Duties: Salaried exempt employees must perform specific job duties to qualify for exempt status. In Arkansas, this includes executive, administrative, professional, elective, and advisory duties. 
  • Breaks: Arkansas laws do not establish mandatory rest and meal breaks for exempt employees. However, if breaks are offered, they are deemed compensable for exempt employees.
  • Job Security: Since salaried exempt employees enjoy the protection of federal laws such as the FLSA and FMLA, they generally have more job security than hourly employees.
  • Benefits and Perks: Employers may offer additional benefits and perks to exempt employees. These include health insurance, retirement plans, and PTO. Further, exempt employees are entitled to paid sick leave

Please note that exempt status is subject to regulations that change over time. To ensure compliance with the most current labor laws, employers and employees in Arkansas should consult with legal professionals, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, or the Arkansas Department of Labor and Licensing.

What are the Differences Between Exempt and Non-Exempt Salaried Employees in Arkansas?

Aspect Exempt Employees Non-Exempt Employees
Overtime Pay Exempt from overtime laws and pay. Eligible for overtime pay at 1.5 times the regular hourly rate for time worked above 40 hours in a workweek. Employees of state agencies can opt for compensatory time at a rate of 1.5 hours for every hour worked overtime. Please note that firefighters and law enforcement officers are not eligible for comp time. 
Minimum Salary Typically paid a fixed salary regardless of hours worked and work quality or quantity. The salary must meet or exceed the federal minimum salary threshold of $684 per week. Typically earn the minimum wage rate of $11 per hour. 
Job Duties Perform exempt job duties, which include executive, administrative, or professional tasks. Job duties typically involve routine, clerical, or manual work.
Record Keeping Employee records do not have to include hours worked. Accurate records of hours worked should be kept for at least three years. 
Exemptions from Wage Laws Exempt from some wage and hour laws, including minimum wage and overtime provisions. Subject to all applicable wage and hour laws, including minimum wage, overtime, and wage deduction provisions.
Salary Basis Typically paid on a salary basis once or twice a month regardless of hours worked. Pay is computed hourly and tied to the number of hours worked.

The distinctions presented in this table are based on general employment laws. They may vary depending on specific circumstances, such as industry, job classification, and collective bargaining agreements. As a salaried employee in Arkansas, it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities under state and federal labor laws better by seeking legal counsel or contacting the Arkansas Department of Labor and Licensing.

How to Determine if You’re Exempt or Non-Exempt in Arkansas?

Exempt employees in Arkansas are not subject to certain wage and hour provisions of the FLSA and are generally excluded from minimum wage requirements. To qualify as an exempt employee in the state, an employee must meet the following criteria outlined by the FLSA:

  1. Salary Basis: Exempt employees in Arkansas must be paid on a salary basis. 
  2. Salary Level Test: To qualify as exempt in Arkansas, an employee’s salary must meet or exceed the minimum salary threshold of $684 per week ($35,568 per year). 
  3. Duties Test: In addition to meeting the salary threshold, exempt employees must also perform specific job duties. The exempt duties in the state fall under one of the following categories:
    • Executive Exemption: Salaried employees qualify for this exemption if they manage the company or one of its recognized departments or subdivisions, supervise at least two full-time employees and have the authority to hire, promote, and fire employees. Individuals in elective positions in the state and their advisors are considered executive employees.
    • Administrative Exemption: To qualify for this exemption, employees must perform office or non-manual work directly related to the management of the company or general business operations. Further, their role should involve exercising discretion and independent judgment on significant matters.
    • Professional Exemption: To qualify for this exemption, employees must perform work requiring advanced knowledge in a field of science or learning, customarily acquired through advanced education or its equivalent. Additionally, their work should involve the exercise of discretion and judgment. Under Arkansas state law, employees who perform computer-related duties such as systems analysis and programming are considered professional employees.
    • Outside Sales Exemption: To qualify for this exemption, employees must be engaged in making sales or obtaining orders and customarily work away from the employer’s place of business.

It is important to note that meeting the salary threshold alone does not make an employee exempt. A salaried employee must also perform duties that align with one of the FLSA’s exempt categories to qualify for exemption. Further, the regulations on which exemption criteria are based evolved from time to time. Therefore, you should consult the Arkansas Department of Labor and Licensing or seek legal counsel for the most up-to-date information on exempt employee criteria in the state.

Wage and Hour Regulations in Arkansas

What are the Minimum Wage Requirements for Salaried Employees in Arkansas?

The minimum wage in Arkansas is currently $11 per hour. The minimum wage for tipped employees is significantly lower at $2.63 per hour but if tips do not bring it up to $11 per hour, the employer should top it up to bring it to the state’s minimum wage. Therefore, non-exempt salaried employees in the state earn a minimum of $11 per hour regardless of their occupation.

Comparatively, exempt employees are not bound by the state’s minimum wage laws. As such, their minimum salary is the FLSA’s exempt salary threshold of $684 per week.

How is Overtime Compensated for Salaried Employees in Arkansas?

Salaried employees who are eligible for overtime receive overtime pay for time worked beyond 40 hours a week if they work regular schedules or 80 hours per pay period if they have flexible working arrangements. Overtime pay is computed at a rate of 1.5 times the regular hourly rate. 

Employees of public agencies in Arkansas can opt for compensatory time instead of overtime pay. Comp time is compensated at a rate of 1.5 hours of time off for every 1 hour of overtime for up to 240 hours. Compensatory time is computed in 15-minute increments.

Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Arkansas

What are the Permissible Deductions from Salaried Employee Pay in Arkansas?

Arkansas laws outline two categories of permissible deductions from employees’ pay. The first category comprises mandatory deductions. An employer in Arkansas is required to make the following deductions from your salary:

  • Taxes: An employer is allowed to deduct state and federal taxes from an employee’s salary. Based on your income, your employer can deduct up to 5.9% of your salary as state income tax. You can confirm the amount of income tax your employer should deduct from your pay from this table.
  • Court-Ordered Wage Garnishments: Employers in Arkansas are obliged to comply with court orders demanding wage deductions for child support, bankruptcy proceedings, and other payments to third parties.
  • Voluntary Wage Assignments: Employers are allowed to comply with employee orders to make deductions for insurance premiums, the purchase of savings bonds, charitable donations, and union dues.

The second category comprises non-standard deductions that an employer can only make on condition that they do not reduce an employee’s salary below the minimum wage. These include:

  • Fines and penalties for lateness or employee misconduct
  • Recovery of cash shortages and inventory losses
  • Recovery of losses due to spoilage and breakage
  • Penalties for quitting without notice

What are the Provided Employee Benefits and Protections Under Arkansas State Law?

  • The state’s wage and hour laws guarantee employees in Arkansas a minimum wage rate of $11 per hour, which is above the federal minimum wage. 
  • Some employees in Arkansas earn overtime pay or compensatory time for working more hours than the standard 40 hours a week or 80 hours in two weeks.
  • The Arkansas Occupational Safety and Health (AROSH) Division protects employees from workplace safety violations.
  • Employees in Arkansas are protected from workplace discrimination based on race, country of origin, color, religion, gender, age, and disability.
  • Arkansas child labor laws protect minors from hazardous jobs such as excavation, operating heavy machinery, and working in establishments that sell liquor.
  • Arkansas prohibits employers from firing, demoting, withholding compensation, or retaliating in any other way against an employee who has reported labor violations or fraud as per the Fraud Detection and Whistle-Blower Protection Act.

Taking Action Against Violations in Arkansas

How to Report Violations to Authorities or Labor Departments in Arkansas?

Labor law violations in Arkansas can include wage discrepancies, denial of overtime pay, employee misclassification, employing minors in hazardous occupations, and retaliation for reporting fraud.

If your employer makes non-permissible or unauthorized deductions from your salary, withholds your pay, or violates other wage and hour laws, you can report the violations by filing a wage claim with the Labor Standards Division of the Arkansas Department of Labor and Licensing by filling out a wage claim request. Please note that the division is only responsible for claims of up to $2,000. 

To report workplace discrimination in Arkansas, you can file a discrimination charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by visiting an EEOC office or submitting an online enquiry through the public portal. It is important to note that you should file a discrimination claim within 180 days of the incident.

Case Studies and Real-Life Scenarios of Salaried Employee Rights Violations in Arkansas

Overtime Violation and Unlawful Wage Deduction: P.A.M. Transport Inc. Ordered to Pay Truckers $4.75 million for Denying them Overtime Pay and Making Illegal Wage Deductions

In 2022, 7,965 truck drivers won a class action case against their employer P.A.M. Transport Inc. The truck drivers alleged that their employer failed to compensate them for all the hours they were on the road. As a result, they were denied overtime pay for working beyond the standard 40 hours a week between January 2020 and July 2022. 

In addition to computing their hours inaccurately and denying them overtime pay, the truckers accused their employer of using an escrow account to deduct their wages and applying unreasonable interest rates on salary advances. 

The United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas approved a settlement of $4.75 million and ordered P.A.M. Transport Inc. to modify its payroll and advance policies to prevent similar labor law violations in the future. 

Lessons learned from the case:

  • The case underscores the importance of defining compensable time clearly and ensuring that employees are compensated for all the time they spend on work-related activities.
  • The case highlights the importance of tracking time worked to ensure that regular hours and overtime hours are recorded accurately and compensated accordingly.         

Workplace Discrimination: Kroger Limited Partnership I Ordered to Pay $180,000 for Religious Discrimination

In 2022, a district court judge for the Eastern District of Arkansas ordered a  subsidiary of the Kroger supermarket chain to settle a workplace discrimination case in Equal Emp’t Opportunity Comm’n v. Kroger Ltd. P’ship I.

Two former employees had filed the case in 2019, alleging that they were fired for refusing to wear a uniform with a logo that resembled the pride flag. The two employees stated that the logo went against their religious beliefs since it showed support for the LGBTQ community.

In its defense, the supermarket chain denied firing the two employees over the uniforms and added that the rainbow-colored logo was not intended to express support for the LGBTQ community. The company settled the case in 2022 and agreed to create a religious accommodation policy as part of the settlement.

Lessons learned from the case:

  • The case reiterates the importance of recognizing the protected characteristics and enforcing policies that protect employees from discrimination based on any of them.
  • The settlement serves as a reminder to employers that retaliating against employees for raising concerns is prohibited.

Final Thoughts

It is imperative that salaried employees in Arkansas understand their legal rights and protections. This knowledge will empower them to protect their rights and become proactive in advocating for their own welfare.

Keeping up with changes in labor laws is vital for maintaining a positive work experience within the state. Given the intricate nature of employment regulations, seeking professional guidance by consulting with an employment attorney or reaching out to the Arkansas Department of Labor and Licensing can offer invaluable advice and direction.

Important Cautionary Notice

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 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 use of this guide.