Iowa Labor Laws

March 14th 2024

This article covers:

What are Iowa Time Management Laws?

In the US, there are federal laws in place to manage the time spent by employees in the workplace, safeguarding their rights and guaranteeing fair pay for their efforts. These laws act as directives for employers, keeping them in check, and minimizing any forms of abuse or exploitation.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which dates back to 1938, is a critical federal law for time management, setting hourly wage rates and overtime pay, and requiring employers to keep an accurate record of their employees’ working hours. Overtime is pegged at 1.5 times the regular hourly rate for workers who exceed 40 hours a week. However, certain job categories, including executives, professionals, and administrative employees, are exempt from overtime pay depending on their job description and salary.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is another essential federal law that governs time management in the workplace, entitling eligible employees to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for specific family and medical reasons, such as the birth or adoption of a child or caring for a family member with a serious health condition. This act also requires employers to maintain employees’ health benefits during their leave and restore them to their previous or equivalent positions upon their return to work.

Employers who contravene federal time management laws face severe legal ramifications, including fines, back pay, and damages. If workers feel that their employer has violated federal time management laws, they can file complaints with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division for investigation and legal action.

Overall, federal time management laws are instrumental in ensuring that workers are compensated fairly for their time and effort in the workplace, protecting them from abuse and exploitation by employers. The Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act are vital federal laws that govern time management and worker compensation, ensuring fair labor practices across various sectors, including non-profit, public, and private organizations.

Iowa Minimum Wage $7.25
Iowa Overtime 1.5 times the regular wage for any time worked over 40 hours/week
($10.88 for minimum wage workers)
Iowa Breaks None for adults, 30-minutes for every 5 hours for employed minors

What are the Hiring, Working & Termination Laws in Iowa?

When hiring new employees, it’s important for employers to follow regulations to ensure that discrimination is not a factor. The Iowa Civil Rights Act specifically prohibits discrimination based on characteristics like race, gender, and disability. However, employers are allowed to give preference to certain applicants, such as veterans or their spouses. It’s also worth noting that while employers can request credit card reports, they may be held liable if they violate an applicant’s privacy in the process.

In Iowa, the Equal Employment Opportunity policy ensures that every job applicant has a fair chance of employment, regardless of their personal characteristics. The policy also prohibits employers from unjustly treating or dismissing their employees based on specific characteristics. As per The Iowa Civil Rights Act, and as mentioned before, employers cannot discriminate based on:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Creed
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender Identity
  • Nationality
  • Disability
  • Religion
  • Pregnancy

In Iowa, the employment-at-will policy means that an employee can be terminated for any reason while under contract. However, it is important to note that it is illegal to terminate someone due to discrimination or retaliation. According to state law, employers must provide their employees with their final paycheck on their next scheduled payday, regardless of why they were let go.  

What Are the Key Labor Laws in Iowa?

Now, we will discuss some key labor laws in Iowa that may not be related to the categories we have previously explored. Some of these regulations include:

  • OSHA Laws – Iowa’s State Occupational Safety and Health Administration is a subdivision of the Iowa Division of Labor Services in the Department of Workforce Management. It offers a variety of services including consultations on workplace hazards and safety, inspections, and a voluntary protection program. It also provides publicly available research and statistics and ensure safety and health compliance. When it comes to permits and inspections, the Iowa Division of Labor conducts amusement ride inspections, issues athletic event permits, and ensures boiler and pressure vessel safety, among other tasks. Additionally, the US Department of Labor provides a web page listing the workplaces that are not covered by the Iowa state OSHA.
  • Whistleblower Protection Laws – Employees are protected in various scenarios where they may report their employers for illegal conduct thanks to whistleblower protection laws. Such scenarios include protection against retaliation for reporting illegal activities to appropriate authorities, for refusing to partake in such activities, for filing for workers comp or unemployment benefits, and for opposing discriminatory practices while abiding by statutory laws, filing complaints or reports, and testifying or assisting authorities in due processes. OSHA whistleblower protection may apply when employees file complaints or reports, institute a proceeding, or refuse to work in a workplace that poses a safety risk. Moreover, employees may be protected by wage payment collection regulations as they report and assign a claim, bring action against the employer, or participate in such action. Iowa state has implemented a vast list of whistleblower protection directives and take great care in ensuring that employee safety is a priority in the workspace.
  • Background Check Laws – Employers are technically allowed to conduct background checks on job applicants, but there are a couple of important rules to follow. First, they can’t request information on charges that didn’t receive a final sentence within 18 months of the arrest without written consent from the applicant. Second, if an applicant completed probation and received a deferred judgment, the employer also cannot request that information without written consent from the applicant. It’s worth noting that healthcare facilities in Iowa are allowed to conduct full background checks. Currently, only the City of Waterloo has adopted “Ban the Box” legislation, meaning employers there cannot inquire about an applicant’s criminal history until after a job offer has been made.
  • The Employee Monitoring Law – Iowa State Law clearly states that employers are prohibited from monitoring or intercepting their employees’ electronic communications.
  • Drug And Alcohol Testing Laws – In Iowa, employers have the freedom to conduct alcohol and drug testing on their employees as long as there’s a pre-existing policy in place. The policy must detail who can be tested, when, and why, and all employees must be made aware of it. Employers can require testing if there is reasonable suspicion of drug or alcohol use, if an employee is in a rehabilitation program, or if an accident caused an injury or over $1,000 in property damage. However, employers cannot conduct testing in a discriminatory manner based on age, sex, gender, or race. Iowa Department of Health laboratories or those certified by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration must be used for testing purposes.
  • COBRA Laws – In Iowa, both the Federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) and a state regulation known as “mini-COBRA” are followed. While COBRA only applies to businesses with 20 or more employees, small businesses with 19 or fewer employees can rely on mini-COBRA for assistance. This regulation allows former employees to maintain health coverage through their former employer for 9 months after their job ends, as long as they were covered under their former workplace insurance for at least 3 consecutive months.
  • Expense Reimbursement Laws – According to the Iowa Code, the employer must compensate all expenses approved and made by the employee. Payment must be made either before or after the expenses are incurred, but no later than 30 days following the employee’s submission of an expense report.
  • Recordkeeping Laws – Please see the records in the below table, as those must be kept by employers:
Record Duration Type of Records
1 year Records relating to employment
Copies of I-9 forms for each employee
2 years Documents related to basic employment and earnings (wages, time cards, billing records, bonuses, deductions)
3 years Payroll records
Agreements and bargaining agreements
Sales and purchase records
Over 4 years Employment tax records (4 to 7 years)
Job-related injury records (5 years)
Annual reports for benefit plans (6 years)
Records of toxic substance exposure (30 years)

Iowa Payment Laws

To start off, let’s take a look at the laws that govern how much employees must be paid. We’ll delve into the details of minimum wage standards, including any exceptions that may apply.

What is the Minimum Payment in Iowa?

As of 2024, the minimum wage in Iowa remains at $7.25 per hour, the same as the federal minimum wage which has not changed since 2008. However, Johnson County has a higher minimum wage of $11.56 per hour effective July 1st, 2022, although it is not legally binding. In Iowa, tipped employees can receive a minimum wage of $4.35 per hour as long as they earn at least $7.25 per hour including tips. For new employees under 20 years old, they can be paid $4.25 per hour for the first 90 days of their employment, and full-time high school or college students can receive a minimum wage of $6.16 per hour, which must be no less than 85% of the regular minimum wage for up to 20 hours of work per week.

What are the Exceptions for Minimum Payment in Iowa?

In Iowa, the groups excluded from minimum wage requirements are in accordance with the Federal Labor Standards Act guidelines. These groups include:

  • Farm and seasonal workers
  • Tipped workers
  • Employed minors
  • Full-time students
  • Computer professionals
  • Outside sales employees
  • Workers with disabilities (if the disability affects the quality and/or quantity of work, this exemption requires a permit)

What is the Payment Due Date in Iowa?

As per Iowa state laws, it is mandatory to pay an employee’s wages at least once a month, with preference given to semimonthly payments at predetermined intervals. The payday must be fixed on the same day every month and should ideally not be later than 12 days after the completion of the work period during which the wages were earned.

What are Iowa Overtime Laws?

In Iowa, overtime is regulated by the Fair Labor Standards Act. This means that any time over 40 weekly hours worked is considered overtime, and employers must pay their employees 1.5 times their regular wage for any overtime work ($10.88/hr for minimum wage workers). It’s worth noting, however, that only the hours totaling over 40 hours per week count as overtime – any hours worked over 8 hours per day do not.

What are Overtime Exceptions and Exemptions in Iowa?

Similar to how overtime pay is regulated by the FLSA, the exemptions are also governed by this law. The list of exemptions includes:

  • Executive positions, Administrative workers, Professional workers
  • Outside salespeople
  • Employees at a recreational or amusement establishment, or organized camp
  • Employees with a salary basis of no less than $684 a week

Learn more in detail about Iowa Salaried Employees Laws and Iowa Overtime Laws.

Iowa Time Off/Break Laws

Now, let’s shift our attention to the laws that regulate break times in Iowa, including any exemptions that may apply.

What are Iowa Meal-Break Laws?

In Iowa, there are no state regulations regarding breaks for regular employees. As a result, employers in the state must adhere to federal regulations. Under federal law, employers are not required to provide meal breaks. The only instances where breaks are mentioned are in relation to minors who work for an employer. These employees are eligible to take a 30-minute break for every 5 consecutive hours worked. Nevertheless, employers can choose to offer meal breaks. If the break lasts for 20 minutes or less, then it should be paid. If the break lasts more than 20 minutes, it counts as an unpaid meal break.

What are Iowa Breastfeeding Laws?

Iowa complies with federal requirements when it comes to lactation in the workplace. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) mandates that employers must offer break times for new mothers to express breast milk. The employer also needs to provide a private area, away from any interruptions and colleagues, for the nursing parent to nurse or pump milk for their child. It’s important to note that the private area cannot be a bathroom. However, there are two exceptions to this rule: if the employer has less than 50 employees or if the break time is during an appropriate time (unpaid).

Learn more in detail about Iowa Break Laws.

What are Iowa Leave Laws?

Iowa provides two types of leaves – required and non-required leaves.

What is Iowa Required Leave?

The following are the required leave types that Iowa employers must provide to their employees:

  • Sick Leave And Family Leave – The state of Iowa does not obligate employers to give paid sick leave. In situations where the Family and Medical Leave Act or other federal laws take precedence, employers may be required to pay sick leave. To be eligible for leave, an employee must work at an eligible company (>50 employees, government agency, elementary or secondary school), for at least 12 months and 1,250 hours, and work at a location with at least 50 employees within 75 miles. The amount of leave that can be taken is 12 weeks and it can be for various reasons such as caring for a family member or child, having a serious health condition, or if a family member or spouse is on active military duty. Even if the leave isn’t necessarily paid, the employee cannot be fired and must be rehired to their former position.
  • Jury Duty Leave – If you work for an employer in Iowa and get called for jury duty, they can’t dock your pay or punish you for taking time off, but they don’t have to pay you either. It’s important to note that any payment you receive from the state for serving on a jury doesn’t count as wages.
  • Voting Time Leave – Employers must give their staff 3 hours of paid time off in a row for voting during the time that polls are open. If you want to take voting leave, you have to ask your employer in writing before election day.
  • Domestic Violence Or Sexual Assault Leave – Unfortunately, there are currently no specific laws or regulations in Iowa that provide leave for employees who have been victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault. However, the state does have an employment discrimination code that prohibits employers from firing or reducing the pay of employees who have become involved in domestic or elder abuse cases as witnesses, plaintiffs, or defendants.
  • Emergency Response Leave – If you’re an employee who serves as a volunteer medical service personnel or firefighter, you have the right to take emergency response leave during an emergency. And don’t worry about your job – when you come back, you’ll be reinstated to your previous position and pay.
  • Organ And Bone Donation Leave – As a state employee, you are eligible for some benefits regarding donation. You can take up to 5 workdays if you are donating bone marrow and up to 30 workdays if you are donating an organ, provided you offer the correct medical documentation. On top of that, you can take up to 2 hours in one workday for blood donation, a maximum of 4 times per year. When you return to work, your previous job position is guaranteed to be reinstated, and no salary decrease should occur.
  • Military Leave – Iowa law mandates that state employees serving in the National Guard, United States Armed Forces, Civil Air Patrol, and United States Army Nurse Corps receive 30 paid days of military leave per calendar year.

What is Iowa Non-Required Leave?

What is Iowa Non-Required Leave?

The non-required leave types are:

  • Bereavement Leave – It is not mandatory for employers to provide bereavement leave or time off for employees attending funerals. However, if the employer chooses to offer this benefit, it is important they follow a company policy.
  • Vacation Time – When it comes to paid vacation leave in Iowa, state law doesn’t require employers to offer it. However, companies can choose to provide this benefit if they want to, as long as it aligns with their existing policies.
  • Holiday Leave – When it comes to private employers, they are not legally obligated to offer paid leave or premium pay for holiday work, unless it turns into overtime. The singular exception is Veterans Day, where war veterans are entitled to certain benefits. Meanwhile, public office employees and educators in public schools must have time off on state-recognized holidays.

The following are the official federal holidays observed in the US:

State Official Holidays Date
New Year’s Day 1 January
Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Rights Day Third Monday in January
Washington’s Birthday Third Monday in February
Memorial Day Last Monday in May
Independence Day 4 July
Labor Day First Monday in September
Columbus Day Second Monday in October
Election Day Every other year
Veterans Day 11 November
Thanksgiving Day Fourth Thursday in November
Christmas Day 25 December

What are Iowa Child Labor Laws?

It’s quite normal to see minors working in Iowa, but they need a Working Permit provided by the Iowa Department of Labor before they can start working.

What are the Laws on Working Hours for Minors in Iowa?

If you’re a 14 or 15 years old minor and interested in working, there are certain labor laws that apply to you. Generally, you’re allowed to work between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., but during the summer holidays, you can work until 9 p.m. However, there are also limitations on the number of hours you can work in a day or week. If you attend school, you can work a maximum of 4 hours on a school day and 8 hours on a non-school day. During the school term, you can work up to 28 hours per week, whereas, during school breaks, you can work up to 40 hours. Lastly, keep in mind that you’re entitled to a 30-minute break for every 5 hours worked.

However, if you are 16 or 17 years old, there are no limitations regarding the working hours.

What are the Banned Jobs for Minors in Iowa?

The prohibited jobs for minors are as follows:

  • Occupations in plants or establishments producing, selling, or storing explosives or items with explosive components
  • Motor vehicle driving
  • Logging
  • Operation of elevators and handling power-driven hoisting machinery
  • Mining
  • Handling power-driven paper, logging, shearing, and metal-forming machinery
  • Manufacturing of bricks and tiles
  • Demolition, wrecking, and shipbreaking
  • Handling dry cleaning or dyeing machinery
  • Occupations with increased exposure to fumes, chemicals, or radioactive materials
  • Manufacturing (only for 14 and 15-year-old minors)
  • Public messenger (only for 14 and 15-year-old minors)
  • Transportation services (both goods and people) (only for 14 and 15-year-old minors)
  • Construction (only for 14 and 15-year-old minors)
  • Occupations in or about boiler or engine rooms (only for 14 and 15-year-old minors)
  • Maintenance or repair of any sort (only for 14 and 15-year-old minors)
  • Cooking, baking, operating slicers, grinders, cutters, and food choppers (only for 14 and 15-year-old minors)
  • Working in freezers and meat coolers, and any preparation of meat (only for 14 and 15-year-old minors)
  • Loading and unloading goods (only for 14 and 15-year-old minors)
  • Warehouse work (except if in office) (only for 14 and 15-year-old minors)

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.