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

April 11th 2024

It is essential to understand that the employment rights of hourly employees transcend mere legal applicability. Rather, they symbolize the path toward professional development, providing the self-assurance required to navigate one’s career.

As you clock in and out each day, the income you earn profoundly influences your professional standing within the workplace. 

Furthermore, the details of employment regulations vary from state to state across the U.S. This may have you contemplating not only the applicable governing regulations in your state concerning your employment rights but also how you can ensure that your employment rights are safeguarded according to your state’s regulations. 

This article is particularly written to address your curiosity and provide you with the knowledge required to help safeguard your employment rights and maintain a healthy overall well-being throughout your career.

This Article Covers

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

Defining an Hourly Employee in Hawaii

What is Hourly Employment in Hawaii?

Generally, an hourly employee is an individual who is compensated based on the number of hours worked and are typically eligible for working overtime hours.

Unlike salaried employees, who typically have a contract that schedules their working hours, employers determine the number of hours their hourly employees are scheduled to work. Due to this arrangement, employers must verify the working hours of their hourly employees by accurately documenting them through relying on timekeeping systems such as timecards or timesheets.

Since hourly employees may have fluctuating working hours because of their shift rotations, this means that their weekly income may vary. This is unlike salaried employees who receive a fixed pay regardless of the hours that they have worked. Therefore, although hourly employees may enjoy flexibility in their work schedules, salaried employees generally have better job security benefits.

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

Aspect Hourly Employees Salaried Employees
Compensation Compensation is given on the basis of each hour that has been worked. A fixed pay is typically given on a monthly basis or bimonthly basis. 
Overtime Pay Legally entitled to receive the state’s minimum hourly pay rate. May be ineligible to receive the state’s minimum hourly pay rate if the employee is classed as non-exempt.
Minimum wage Eligible to be paid the state’s minimum hourly wage rate. May be unqualified to earn the state’s minimum hourly wage rate.
Employment security Less job security is typically offered to hourly employees. More job security is likely to be granted to salaried employees.
Rest and Meal Breaks No legal right to rest and meal breaks. No legal right to rest and meal breaks.
Compensation Stability Income supply is based on the number of hours actually worked. A fixed income is received regardless of the actual hours worked. 

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

Wage and Hour Regulations in Hawaii

What are the Maximum Weekly Working Hours in Hawaii?

In Hawaii, there are no state laws or federal laws which legally limit the number of hours an employee can work in a workweek. However, Hawaii Wage and Hour Laws as well as federal overtime laws dictate that employees who work any hours beyond 40 hours in a workweek are required to be compensated by their employer at a rate of one and half times their regular hourly wage. Additionally, all hours worked over the weekend and state holidays are also regarded as overtime.

Generally, most employees in Hawaii are legally eligible for overtime pay such as hourly employees and workers working on state and county projects. Although, a certain class of employees may be exempt from the general eligibility of receiving overtime pay.

What is the Minimum Wage for Hourly Employees in Hawaii?

In this state of Hawaii, wage and hour standards for employees are regulated by both the major federal Fair Labor Standards Act and Hawaii Wage and Hour Laws.

As of 2024, the minimum hourly wage in Hawaii is $14.00 which is higher than the federally mandated minimum wage requirement of $7.25. Furthermore, Hawaii’s minimum wage is set to incrementally increase over the coming years up to $18 per hour in the year 2028, as established by the Hawaii State Department of Labor & Industrial Relations. Therefore, hourly employees in Hawaii earn an expected minimum weekly pay of $480 in a 40 hour work week.

Do All Employees Earn the Minimum Wage in Hawaii?

Both state law and federal law exempt particular categories of employees engaged in certain occupations with specific salary thresholds from earning the state’s minimum wage requirement. These exempt categories of employees include:

  • Employees below the age of 20: Under federal law, employees younger than the age of 20 years are eligible to earn an hourly training pay rate of $4.25 in the first 90 days of employment.
  • Full-time students: Part-time high school or college students, may earn 85% of the state’s minimum hourly pay for up to 20 hours of work per week.
  • Tipped employees: Tipped employees earn a minimum hourly wage that is lower than the state’s requirement but only if the total wage earned (inclusive of tips) adds up to the state’s minimum hourly pay requirement of $14.00.
  • Domestic employees working in or about the employer’s home.
  • Outside salespeople.
  • Seamen.
  • Employees working in a supervisory capacity.
  • Administrative, executive, or professional employees.
  • Computer professional employees.
  • Golf caddies

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

Federal and state laws define overtime as any hours worked by an employee exceeding the standard 40-hour work week, and such additional hours must be compensated for at a fixed rate of one and a half times the employee’s regular hourly rate of pay. Therefore, hourly employees are legally entitled to earn a minimum hourly pay of $18 for working overtime.

In the state of Hawaii, particular categories of employees are also exempt from earning the state’s required overtime pay. These class of employees, in addition to the employees exempt from earning the state’s minimum wage requirement, further comprise of: 

  1. Salaried employees who earn a minimum monthly pay of $2000
  2. Certain agricultural employees
  3. Employees hired by family members
  4. Certain drivers of passenger-carrying vehicles
  5. Farmers
  6. Particular employees engaging in work that relates to propagating, catching, and farming aquatic animals or vegetable life

Rest Laws in Hawaii

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

Now, let’s explore the applicable laws that govern rest and meal breaks in Hawaii and examine any particular exceptions that may come into play.

In Hawaii, there are currently no state or federal regulations mandating the requirement of rest and meal breaks for employees. In other words, employers schedule rest and meal breaks by way of policy to boost their employees’ efficiency but are not legally obligated to do so in the first place.

Although the provision of such breaks is not mandatory by law, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has set forth guidelines regarding whether an employee should be compensated during these periods. Employers are bound to follow these directives should they choose to implement rest and meal breaks for their respective employees. Federal provisions mandate compensation for short breaks with a duration of 20 minutes while unpaid meal breaks exceeding 20 minutes are permitted so long as employees are entirely relieved from work duties to eat during that time frame.

Furthermore, a special case arises for Hawaii based employees who are nursing mothers. Under both the federal law and Hawaii Revised Statute, lactating mothers are legally entitled to a particular type of break known as the ‘breastfeeding break’. This break provides employees with the opportunity to express milk in a secluded non-restroom area that is free from public intrusion for up to a year after childbirth.

Another exception applies to employed minors of the age of 14 or 15. Under state law, employees who are minors must be given a break of 30 minutes for every five consecutive hours of work.


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

  1. Jury duty leave: Section 612-25 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes prevents employers from retaliating against employees who serve their jury duty. Furthermore, employees are required to be provided with unpaid leave to attend to their jury duty and may have to show their employers the jury summons in order to be granted this leave.
  2. Domestic violence leave: Section 378-72 of Hawaii Revised Statutes provides employees, who are crime victims of sexual assault or domestic abuse, 30 days of unpaid leave a year if they are employed by an employer with more than 50 employees. As for employers with less than 50 employees, 5 days of annual unpaid leave is granted to victim employees. This leave is used particularly for the purpose of; 
    • Recovery from the physical or psychological injury inflicted by domestic or sexual abuse
    • Taking legal action
    • Seeking psychological or other counselling
    • Making temporary or permanent relocation arrangements
    • Seeking medical attention
  1. The Family and Medical Leave Act: The federal provisions under The Family and Medical Leave Act provide 12 weeks of annual unpaid leave for employees to attend to personal matters relating to serious health or family reasons whilst securing their employment. Employees are eligible to utilize this leave if: 
    • They were hired by the same employer for a duration of at least 12 months before commencing their leave.
    • They have worked for at least 1,250 hours during those 12 months of employment under the same employer. 
    • Their respective employer has 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius.

Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Hawaii

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

Regarding the deductions of an employee’s paycheck, state law provisions under section 388-6 of Hawaii Revised Statutes regulates the permissibility of wage deductions by an employer. As such, the law establishes that an employer is only permitted to deduct a portion of an employee’s wage if they were authorized by federal or state laws (such as taxes and garnishments) or by the respective employee with prior written consent.

However, certain items are legally prohibited by the employer to be deducted from an employee’s paycheck, even if the employee has given written authorization to do so. The following prohibited items include:
  • Fines;
  • Cash shortages from a cash register used by two or more people;
  • Cash shortages from a cash register under the control of a single employee if the employee is not given the discretion to account for all money received from the beginning of the shift and all money turned in by the end of the shift;
  • Breakage cost;
  • Losses because of accepting a bad check if the employee is granted the discretion to accept or refuse checks;
  • Losses because of:
    • faulty workmanship,
    • Property that has been lost or stolen,
    • Property damage
    • default of customer credit,
    • nonpayment for goods or services received by customers if those losses are not attributable to the employee’s willful or intentional disregard of the employer’s interests;
  • An employee or prospective employee’s medical or physical examination or medical report expenses required by the employer or by law.

The state’s statutory provisions also mandate employers to furnish employees, along with their paychecks where the deductions were made, a pay statement that accurately outlines the value and purpose of each wage deduction.


What are the Provided Hourly Employees Entitlements Under Hawaii State Law?

  1. Minimum wage: Hourly employees in the state of Hawaii are entitled by state law to earn a minimum wage that aligns with Hawaii’s mandated minimum wage requirement of $14.00 per hour of work.
  2. Overtime: Hawaii’s hourly employees are legally entitled to be compensated for working overtime hours exceeding the 40-hour work week. This overtime compensation is to be paid at one and a half times an employee’s regular hourly pay.
  3. Worker’s compensation benefits: Employees who have sustained work-related injuries are entitled to wage loss compensation and medical care as established under Hawaii’s Workers’ Compensation (WC) law. Employers having one or more employees, regardless of their status, are legally obligated to provide their employees with workers’ compensation coverage that is fully funded through a private insurer of their choice.
  4. Temporary Disability Insurance: In Hawaii, hourly employees are entitled to Temporary Disability Insurance to cover their non-work-related injuries and illnesses. Should the employee be unable to work because of their non-occupational injury or sickness, employers are required to provide disability or sick leave benefits to partly offset their lost wages.
  5. Unemployment insurance benefits: Hourly employees in Hawaii who have lost their jobs without any fault of their own are entitled to unemployment insurance benefits. This type of insurance coverage aims to financially assist an individual  during times of unemployment.

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

  1. Refusal to participate in lie detector tests: Part II of the Hawai’i Employment Practices Act makes it illegal for employers to use lie detector tests as an employment condition to assess applicants or  to continue employment for employees.
  2. Victims protection: Employees in Hawaii who are victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault are legally protected under section 378-72 of Hawaii Revised Statutes. This legal provision grants victim employees unpaid leave to obtain psychological counselling, take legal action or seek medical attention.
  3. Location tracking protection: Section 378-102 of Hawaii Revised Statutes legally protects employees and potential hires from having their location tracked or personal information disclosed as a condition of employment or to continue employment. Employees may file a civil suit against their employers for such legal violations.
  4. Workplace discrimination: Under the Hawaii Employment Practices Act, employees in Hawaii are legally protected from workplace discrimination by their employers based on their particular protected characteristics, which comprise of: 
    • Race
    • Color
    • Sex
    • National origin
    • Religion
    • Age
    • Disability
    • Marital status
    • Arrest and court record
    • Being a victim of sexual or domestic violence

Termination of Employment in Hawaii

What are the Termination Laws for Hourly Employees in Hawaii?

As in many other U.S. states, the default employment relationship in Hawaii is characterized as “at-will” in nature. Hence, at any time and with or without any justification, both the employer and employee are free to terminate the employment relationship.

However, certain exceptions do exist as the ‘employment-at-will’ doctrine is not absolute in its general applicability. The rationale for these exceptions is to safeguard the legal rights of employees upon their termination. These exceptions include:

  1. Existence of an employment contract: Employers must inform their employees of their reasons behind terminating their employment if the stipulations of the contract require them to do so. 
  2. Retaliation: Employers are prohibited from retaliating against their employees by terminating their employment for participation in activities that are legally necessary such as reporting workplace violations, electing to join a union, or filing a claim for overtime payment.
  3. Public policy: Employees cannot be terminated on the basis of engaging in duties that serve the public interest such as reporting violations committed by the employer, serving their jury duty, or exercising their right under law.
  4. Workplace discrimination: The Hawaii Employment Practices Act protects employees from being discriminated against in their employment (such as being terminated) because of their legally protected characteristics which include: 
    • Race
    • Color
    • Sex
    • National origin
    • Religion
    • Age
    • Disability
    • Marital status
    • Arrest and court record
    • Being a victim of sexual or domestic violence

Furthermore, Hawaii statutes require employers to issue a final paycheck to employees who have ended their employment. If an employee has been laid off, their final paycheck must be issued immediately right upon discharge or no later than the next business day if the former option is not feasible.

As for employees who voluntarily resign from their employment as a result of a labor dispute, their final paychecks must be issued no later than the next regularly scheduled pay date.

Should Severance Pay Be Provided to Hourly Employees in Hawaii?

Severance pay is the compensation and/or benefits that are offered by an employer to an employee upon their termination of employment. Severance payment is generally calculated based on the employee’s length of service, although the procedure and amount is dictated by the company’s policies. Severance payments are usually paid as one lump sum, but they can also be distributed in several installments.

In the state of Hawaii, employers are not obliged to offer their employees severance pay. However, employers who choose to provide severance pay must have this explicitly outlined in the employment contract and are bound to adhere to its respective contractual terms.

Final Thoughts

To wrap up, it is essential to acquire a profound insight into one’s employment entitlements to ensure that you are being treated fairly in the workplace in accordance with the laws of your state.

Given the fluid nature of employment laws, keeping track of recent legal updates can help you make well-informed choices in your professional career as well as protect your employment rights.

Important Cautionary Note

This content is provided for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, we cannot guarantee that it is free of errors or omissions. Users are advised to independently verify any critical information and should not solely rely on the content provided.