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

April 13th 2024

For hourly workers in Kansas, understanding your rights is a crucial step in protecting yourself and taking charge of your career.

Your daily efforts directly impact your position in the workforce. As an hourly employee, it’s important to know your rights, which can vary significantly from state to state in the US.

This article is tailored specifically for hourly workers in Kansas. Our goal is to provide clear and essential information to protect your rights and empower you to navigate Kansas’ distinct legal landscape in the workplace.

This Article Covers

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

Defining an Hourly Employee in Kansas

What is Hourly Employment in Kansas?

Hourly employment in Kansas refers to a work arrangement where an employee’s compensation is determined based on the number of hours they dedicate to their job during a given workweek. This is in contrast to salaried employees who receive a fixed salary regardless of the number of hours worked. Hourly wage employees in Kansas typically establish specific employment agreements with their employers, often using tools like time cards or timesheets to accurately record their work hours. The responsibility for tracking and verifying the number of hours these employees work on a weekly basis lies with their employers.

The pay for hourly wage workers in Kansas is directly linked to the actual hours they put into their work. Unlike salaried workers who have a predetermined income, hourly employees’ earnings are intricately tied to their work schedule. As a result, their income can vary from one week to the next based on the number of hours worked.

For hourly wage earners in Kansas, it’s crucial to be aware of the minimum wage requirements outlined by both federal and state regulations. While there are typically no strict limits on the maximum number of hours an adult can work in a week, specific guidelines govern hourly pay when it exceeds certain weekly thresholds.

Hourly employment in Kansas is subject to wage and hour laws that dictate minimum wage rates, overtime pay, and other employment terms. Employees and employers alike should be aware of these regulations to ensure compliance with both state and federal laws and to ensure that employees are fairly compensated for their work.

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

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

Key Differences Hourly Employees Salaried Employees
Compensation Paid based on the number of hours worked. Paid a fixed salary regardless of hours worked.
Minimum Wage Entitled to receive at least the state and federal minimum wage for each hour worked. (Kansas minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, the federal minimum wage is also $7.25 per hour) Exempt from minimum wage requirements if certain criteria are met. (Must meet exemption criteria)
Overtime Pay Eligible for overtime pay for hours worked beyond 46 hours in a workweek. The overtime rate is 1.5 times the regular pay rate. Double time for hours beyond 86 in a week. Typically exempt from overtime pay if they meet exemption criteria. (Must meet exemption criteria)
Work Schedule Work Schedule Compensation is tied to the actual hours worked. Compensation remains the same regardless of hours worked.
Rest and Meal Breaks Entitled to rest breaks and meal breaks as per Kansas labor laws. (Rest breaks are required for every 4 hours of work, meal breaks for shifts longer than 5 hours). Same entitlement to rest and meal breaks as hourly employees.

To learn more about Kansas labor laws, you can access our informative guides on understanding your rights as a salaried employee in Kansas and Kansas overtime laws.

Wage and Hour Regulations in Kansas

What are the Maximum Weekly Working Hours in Kansas?

In Kansas, there is no strict limit on the number of hours an employee can be scheduled to work in a workweek, except for employees under the age of 16 who have specific restrictions. Employers have the flexibility to set and change employee work hours as needed without notice to the employee. In Kansas, maximum working hours are also governed by the following:

  • Overtime Pay: If an employee in Kansas works over 46 hours in a week, they are entitled to receive overtime pay at one and a half times their regular rate. This rule applies to both hourly and salaried workers, except for specific job categories exempted from overtime pay.
  • Breaks and Benefits: Kansas lacks state or federal laws requiring meal or rest breaks for employees. Any breaks offered by employers are seen as extras, without mandatory provisions. However, federal law ensures nursing mothers get break time for up to a year post childbirth. Employers in Kansas aren’t obliged to provide paid time off, sick leave, vacation time, or holiday pay unless specified in a contract.
  • Employment Conditions: Kansas operates under an “at-will” employment principle, allowing employers to terminate employees without notice, barring discriminatory or retaliatory reasons.
  • Plant Closings and Layoffs: While Kansas lacks specific state laws, federal regulations mandate companies with a certain employee count to give a 60-day notice for plant closings or layoffs.

What is the Minimum Wage for Hourly Employees in Kansas?

The minimum wage for hourly employees in Kansas is currently set at $7.25 per hour. This rate is in accordance with both Kansas state law and the Federal Minimum Wage rate, which are aligned. Most employees in Kansas are subject to this minimum wage, although there are limited exceptions, including tipped employees, certain student workers, and other exempt occupations.

It’s important to note that the Kansas minimum wage has remained at $7.25 per hour since 2008 when it was last increased by $0.70 from $6.55 to the current rate. Employers in Kansas are obligated to pay their employees at least this minimum wage unless specific exemptions under state or federal law apply to the individual or occupation.

To ensure compliance with labor laws, Kansas employers are required to prominently display an approved Kansas minimum wage poster in the workplace. This poster serves to inform employees about their rights regarding the minimum wage and other labor-related matters.

Rest Laws in Kansas

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

In Kansas, both state and federal labor laws do not mandate employers to provide meal or rest breaks to hourly employees. Here’s a breakdown of the meal and rest break regulations in Kansas:

  1. Federal Law on Paid and Unpaid Breaks: Under federal law, employers are required to pay employees for hours worked, including certain designated break times. For instance, if an employee has to work through a meal break, they must be compensated for that time. Short breaks ranging from five to 20 minutes are considered part of the workday and must be paid.
  2. Bona Fide Meal Breaks: Federal law does not mandate employers to pay for bona fide meal breaks. A bona fide meal break is one in which the employee is completely relieved of all work duties for the purpose of having a meal. Generally, a meal break is considered bona fide if it lasts for at least 30 minutes, although shorter breaks may also qualify depending on the circumstances.
  3. Kansas Meal Break Law: Similar to federal law, Kansas labor law does not require employers to provide any specific meal breaks. However, if an employer chooses to offer a meal break that lasts for less than 30 minutes, they are obligated to pay the employee for that time.
  4. Rest Breaks in Kansas: Kansas, like many other states, does not have laws mandating employers to provide rest breaks, whether paid or unpaid. Therefore, employers in Kansas have discretion when it comes to offering rest breaks to their hourly employees.

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

In Kansas, there are no specific state laws that mandate employers to provide employees with family and medical leave. However, Kansas employees have access to unpaid leave through the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Here are some key points related to family and medical leave in Kansas:

  • FMLA Coverage: Employees in Kansas can avail themselves of unpaid leave under the federal FMLA if they and their employer meet certain criteria. FMLA allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period for qualifying reasons, such as the birth or adoption of a child, caring for a family member with a serious health condition, or dealing with a personal health condition.
  • Employer Policies: Employers in Kansas can establish policies or contractual agreements that dictate whether employees will receive payment for accrued vacation leave upon separation from employment. These policies may also set specific requirements for employees to qualify for such payments, like providing two weeks’ notice or meeting certain employment duration criteria.
  • Payment for Accrued Vacation: If an employer’s policy or employment contract requires it, they must pay accrued vacation to an employee upon separation from employment. However, if the policy or contract is silent on the matter, the employer is not obligated to provide such payment.
  • Accrual Caps: Employers in Kansas have the option to set limits on the amount of vacation leave employees can accrue over time. This means that once employees reach the specified limit, they may not accrue additional vacation time until they use some of their accrued leave.
  • Use-It-or-Lose-It Policy: Employers can also implement a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy, which requires employees to utilize their accrued vacation leave by a certain date or forfeit it. This policy sets a deadline for employees to take their accrued leave.

Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Kansas

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

In Kansas, laws regarding pay deductions for hourly employees are governed by specific regulations. Here are the key points related to pay deductions for hourly employees in Kansas:

  • Legal Deductions: Employers in Kansas are generally prohibited from making deductions from an employee’s wages. However, there are exceptions to this rule, and deductions are allowed under certain circumstances.
  • State or Federal Law: Deductions from an employee’s wages are permitted if the employer is required or authorized to do so by state or federal law. In such cases, the deductions must align with legal requirements and regulations.
  • Medical Deductions: Employers can make deductions for medical, surgical, or hospital care or services, provided that these deductions do not financially benefit the employer. These deductions must be transparently and accurately recorded in the employer’s financial records.
  • Employee Authorization: Employers may make deductions from an employee’s wages if they have obtained a signed authorization from the employee consenting to the deductions. This consent should be for a lawful purpose that directly benefits the employee.
  • Retirement Plan Contributions: Deductions related to contributions attributable to automatic enrollment in a retirement plan established by the employer, as described in sections 401(k), 403(b), 408, 408A, or 457 of the Internal Revenue Code, are permissible.

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

Hourly employees in Kansas are entitled to certain rights and entitlements under state law. Here are some key provisions related to hourly employees’ entitlements under Kansas state law:

  • Minimum Wage: Kansas’ state minimum wage rate is $7.25 per hour, which is the same as the federal minimum wage. Most hourly employees in Kansas must be paid at least this minimum wage, with limited exceptions.
  • Overtime Pay: In Kansas, overtime pay is typically required for eligible employees who work more than 46 hours in a workweek. This is different from the federal standard of 40 hours per week. Some employees, particularly those engaged in commerce or the production of goods for commerce, may still qualify for federal overtime pay after 40 hours per week.
  • Meal and Rest Breaks: Kansas law does not mandate employers to provide meal or rest breaks to hourly employees. Unlike some states, there are no specific requirements for providing breaks, paid or unpaid, under state law. Federal law also does not require meal or rest breaks but mandates that if breaks are provided, they must be compensated if they are less than 30 minutes.
  • Family and Medical Leave: While Kansas does not have its own family and medical leave laws, eligible employees can take unpaid leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA provides job protection for qualifying employees who need time off for specific family or medical reasons.
  • Vacation Pay: Kansas employers are not legally required to provide paid vacation leave to hourly employees. The provision of vacation pay is at the discretion of the employer, and if provided, it should comply with the employer’s established policies or employment contracts.
  • Pay Deductions: Employers are generally prohibited from making deductions from an employee’s wages unless authorized by state or federal law, for medical purposes, with employee consent, or for retirement plan contributions as specified by the Internal Revenue Code.

Hourly employees in Kansas should be aware of these entitlements and rights granted by state law. Employers must also ensure compliance with these regulations to maintain a fair and legal employment relationship with their hourly workforce.

Termination of Employment in Kansas

What are the Termination Laws for Hourly Employees in Kansas?

Termination laws for hourly employees in Kansas are governed by the state’s at-will employment doctrine, which allows employers or employees to terminate the employment relationship at any time, for any reason, without advance notice unless an agreement states otherwise. However, there are important exceptions and considerations related to wrongful termination:

  1. At-Will Employment: Kansas follows the at-will employment doctrine, providing flexibility for employers and employees to end the employment relationship without prior notice, for various reasons, unless a contract or agreement specifies otherwise.
  2. Wrongful Termination: Employers must be cautious not to violate federal and state employment laws when terminating hourly employees. Wrongful termination can result in legal consequences, including the obligation to pay lost and future wages, benefits, damages, and legal fees. Remedies may also include reinstating the terminated employee or providing reasonable accommodations.
  3. Breach of Contract: In cases where an employment contract or agreement exists, whether written, oral, or implied, employers must adhere to the terms and conditions regarding termination outlined in the contract. Breaching these terms can lead to legal repercussions.
  4. Discrimination: Federal law prohibits employers from terminating employees based on protected characteristics, such as sex, race, color, national origin, pregnancy, religion, age, disability, citizenship, genetics, HIV/AIDS status, and military status. Kansas state law extends protection against discrimination based on HIV/AIDS and military status, applying to employers with at least four employees.
  5. Retaliation: Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who exercise their legal rights, such as filing complaints about discriminatory practices, health and safety violations, or wage and hour law violations. Retaliation claims can arise from employees participating in investigations or providing testimony, even if the allegations are based on reasonable suspicion.
  6. Public Policy: Kansas recognizes a public policy exception to at-will employment. Employers cannot terminate at-will employees if doing so contradicts a clearly established public policy. This includes situations where employees exercise legal rights (e.g., filing for workers’ compensation), report violations, refuse to engage in illegal activities, participate in jury duty, or engage in organized union activities.

Should Severance Pay Be Provided to Hourly Employees in Kansas?

Severance pay for hourly employees in Kansas is not mandated by state labor laws. Kansas follows the principle of at-will employment, which means that employers have the discretion to terminate employees or end employment relationships without providing severance pay unless there is an existing contract or policy that states otherwise. Here are some key points to consider regarding severance pay for hourly employees in Kansas:

  • No Legal Requirement: Kansas labor laws do not require employers to offer severance pay to hourly employees. Employers have the flexibility to determine whether they want to provide severance benefits.
  • Employer Discretion: The decision to offer severance pay is at the discretion of the employer. If employers choose to offer severance benefits, they must ensure that the terms and conditions align with their established policies or employment contracts.
  • Contractual Agreements: Some employers may have existing employment contracts or severance policies in place that specify the circumstances under which severance pay will be provided, such as in cases of layoffs, downsizing, or terminations without cause.
  • Customary Practice: While not legally required, some employers in Kansas choose to offer severance pay as a practice to support employees during transitions or as part of a competitive compensation package to attract and retain talent.
  • Compliance with Agreements: Employers who do offer severance pay must ensure that they comply with the terms outlined in their policies or contracts. Failing to do so could result in legal disputes or claims by affected employees.
  • Consultation: Employers considering implementing a severance policy or offering severance pay to hourly employees should consult with legal counsel to ensure compliance with applicable laws and to establish clear guidelines for severance arrangements.

In summary, Kansas labor laws do not mandate severance pay for hourly employees. The provision of severance benefits is typically based on employer discretion, existing contracts, or established policies.

Final Thoughts

Hourly employees in Kansas have rights to fair pay, protection from retaliation, and a safe workplace. Knowing state and federal rules is crucial. While Kansas generally follows the employment-at-will doctrine, there are limits against discriminatory terminations. Being proactive about understanding your rights creates a healthy work environment.

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.