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

April 11th 2024

It is fundamental to acknowledge that your hourly employment rights extend further than legal stipulations, they serve as the catalyst for professional development, providing the confidence needed to steer your own career trajectory.

The income that you generate as you clock in and out every day profoundly impacts your position in the professional realm. While employment laws vary across U.S. states, you may find yourself deliberating your particular employment entitlements and how to align them with your state’s employment laws.

Hence, this article is tailored to address your questions regarding various employment facets, aiming to provide you with the necessary information required to ensure the protection of your legal rights throughout the course of your career.

This Article Covers

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

Defining an Hourly Employee in Louisiana

What is Hourly Employment in Louisiana?

Essentially, the pay structure for hourly employees is based on the hours worked in a pay period, causing a fluctuating gross income from one pay cycle to the next.

To ensure hourly employees are accurately compensated, time tracking tools are typically used to monitor the payable hours worked. In contrast, salaried employees receive a fixed annual amount irrespective of their actual working hours.

Furthermore, while hourly employees may qualify for overtime compensation, they may enjoy fewer employment benefits, such as health coverage or pension benefits, compared to salaried employees.

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

Aspect Hourly Employees Salaried Employees
Compensation Compensated for each hour worked. Compensated on a monthly or bimonthly basis. 
Overtime Pay Entitled to earn the federal overtime wage requirement. Not entitled to earn the federal overtime wage requirement if classed as exempt.
Minimum wage Entitled to earn the federal minimum wage requirement. Not entitled to earn the federal minimum wage requirement if classed as exempt.
Employment benefits Enjoy fewer job benefits. Enjoy more job benefits.
Rest and Meal Breaks No entitlement to compulsory rest and meal breaks. No entitlement to compulsory rest and meal breaks.
Compensation Stability Compensation depends on worked hours. Compensation is independent of worked hours.

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

Wage and Hour Regulations in Louisiana

What are the Maximum Weekly Working Hours in Louisiana?

The employment laws at state and federal standards do not specify a weekly limit as to the required hours an employee must work in a week. However, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) mandates employers to pay employees, who have worked over 40 hours per week, a pay rate of one and a half times an employee’s standard hourly pay.

Additionally, not all employees in the state of Louisiana are eligible for overtime pay by default. As a matter of fact, the federal overtime requirements legally exempt specific employees from earning overtime compensation based on the kinds of occupations they are engaged in.

What is the Minimum Wage for Hourly Employees in Louisiana?

Since the state of Louisiana has no minimum wage laws of its own, employers in the state must comply with the minimum wage requirements established under federal law. This means that all employees in Louisiana must earn at least a minimum hourly wage of $7.25 as per the federal minimum wage requirements.

Evidently, Louisiana’s statutory provisions prohibit local government units from implementing laws that obligate private employers to pay a minimum wage that is higher than the federal minimum wage.

Thus, in adherence to the state’s minimum wage requirement, an hourly wage worker in Louisiana would typically earn at least $290 in a standard 40-hour workweek.

Do All Employees Earn the Minimum Wage in Louisiana?

While some employees are entitled to receive the federally mandated minimum hourly wage, it is imperative to note that the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) legally exempts specific kinds of employees from the federal minimum wage and overtime requirements, including:

  • Tipped Employees: Employees who receive tips are permitted to earn an hourly wage lower than the federal minimum wage, provided that the tips combined with the hourly wage meet the federal minimum wage of $7.25.
  • Full-time students: High school or college students working on a part-time basis are permitted to earn as low as $6.16 per hour, which is 85% of the federal minimum hourly wage requirement. Youths aged 14 and 15 can work up to 18 hours in a school week and up to 40 hours in a non-school week, while there are no time standards for minors aged 16 and 17.
  • Employees below 20 years old: Federal rules permit employees below the age of 20 years to earn a minimum hourly wage of $4.25 within the first 90 days of commencing employment. After the first 90 days of employment, they must earn the minimum federal wage requirement.
  • Employees who babysit on a casual basis
  • Disabled workers
  • Fishermen
  • Newspaper delivery employees
  • Switchboard operators
  • Seamen employed on non-American vessels
  • Farmers
  • Employees of seasonal and recreational establishments are computer professionals.
  • Outside salespeople.
  • Administrative, executive, or professional employees.
  • Employees who are computer professionals.

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

The federal overtime laws stipulate that all employees who put in more than 40 weekly hours are entitled to be paid an overtime rate of one and a half times their regular rate of pay. Therefore, a Louisiana hourly worker usually earns an overtime pay rate of $10.88 for every hour worked beyond regular work hours.

Do All Employees Earn Overtime Pay in Louisiana?

Apart from the previously mentioned exempt employees who are ineligible to earn the federal minimum wage and overtime pay, below are some of the categories of employees who are expressly only exempt from receiving overtime compensation under federal law:

  • Seamen on American vessels;
  • Sugar processing employees;
  • Taxi drivers;
  • Radio station employees of small markets;
  • Livestock Auction workers;
  • Employees who work in motion picture theatre;
  • Airline employees;
  • Aircraft salespeople;
  • Railroad employees;
  • Truck and trailer salespeople.

Rest Laws in Louisiana

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

While there are no federal or state laws in Louisiana that require employers to provide rest or meal breaks to employees, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does mandate compensation for employees who take a rest break that lasts 20 minutes or less. Although, this federal requirement is inapplicable for meal breaks that last 30 minutes or longer, provided that the employee is free to do as they wish during that time.

It is worth mentioning that an exception is given to employees below the age of 18. According to Louisiana’s statutory laws, employers are mandated to provide employed minors with a 30-minute meal break if they are scheduled to work for 5 consecutive hours during the working day. 

Another exception is granted to employees who are nursing mothers. Employers are obligated by the Fair Labor Standards Act to provide these types of employees with daily unpaid breaks to pump milk in a private non-restroom area for up to a year after delivering their child. Furthermore, Louisiana statutes permit a mother to breastfeed her child in any private or public location where she is authorized to be.

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

  • Bone marrow donor leave: Louisiana’s statutory laws mandate that employees working for employers with 20 or more individuals receive 40 hours worth of paid leave for bone marrow donation, provided they work an average of 20 hours per week or more.
  • Military leave: According to Louisiana’s statutory provisions, employers must provide military leave to employees, allowing them to maintain the accrual of vacation and other benefits. Employees are also entitled to be reinstated to their previously held job position, and for one year, termination without cause is prohibited. 
  • Pregnancy disability leave: According to Louisiana’s statutory laws, employers with 25 or more employees must allow up to six weeks of leave for regular pregnancy or childbirth and up to four months for pregnancy-related disabilities.
  • Jury duty leave: As per the provisions of Louisiana’s labor laws, employers are prohibited from punishing employees who provide reasonable prior notice of their jury duty. Furthermore, employers must compensate employees with one day’s worth of pay when called to serve on a state petit or grand jury, without requiring the use of vacation or sick leave.
  • Emergency responder leave: c, employees, who are certified volunteer firefighters, must be given job-protected leave to serve as a first responder during the time of an emergency call.
  • Family and Medical Leave: Employers in Louisiana may be required under The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to provide employees with 12 weeks of unpaid leave. This leave is available for health conditions affecting the employee or their immediate family, the birth or adoption of a child, or specific military activities. To qualify, employees must have been with the same employer for a minimum of 12 months, worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during the preceding 12 months, and the employer must have 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius.

Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Louisiana

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

Under Louisiana’s statutory rules, an employer is prohibited from deducting or withholding wages from an employee unless:

  1. The employee intentionally or negligently causes damage to goods or works.
  2. The employee intentionally or negligently causes damage or destroys the property of an employer.
  3. The employee is either convicted of or admits guilt to theft of the employer’s funds.

Therefore, unless the above conditions are met, employers in Louisiana cannot make deductions in an employee’s paycheck for reasons relating to:

  • cash shortages
  • damage, breakage, or loss of the employer’s property
  • uniforms
  • tools, or
  • any other items necessary

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

  • Minimum wage: All employees in Louisiana are entitled to earn the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. 
  • Overtime: Under federal law, non-exempt employees are legally entitled to earn overtime payment for working any hours beyond 40 hours in a week at an hourly wage rate fixed at one and a half times their regular hourly wage.
  • Worker’s compensation insurance: All employees in the state are covered by Louisiana’s Workers’ Compensation Law. This law requires employers to provide benefits to employees who have suffered work-related injuries. It also requires employees to promptly report their workplace injuries within 30 days whereby a failure to do so may lead to a denial of benefits. Furthermore, employees are entitled to a reporting period of one year if their respective employers have failed to display the workers’ compensation notice in the workplace.
  • Unemployment insurance benefits: Unemployment insurance benefits serve to financially support employees who have lost employment through circumstances outside of their control. These benefits partially compensate unemployed employees for the loss of wages during their job search or until they are rehired. Employees do not contribute from their paychecks for this coverage. Additionally, employers are prohibited under Louisiana’s statutory laws from terminating employees who have filed a claim for unemployment compensation benefits.
  • Extended health insurance benefits: The federal provisions established under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) permit employees to maintain health insurance benefits after their termination of employment. As federal COBRA applies only to employers with 20 or more employees, numerous states in the U.S. have made their adaptations of the law, commonly known as “mini-COBRAs”. The mini-COBRA of Louisiana allows employees to extend their health coverage for up to 12 months at maximum. Each individual certification of coverage must include a notice of the right to continue coverage.

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

  • Workplace safety protection laws: Louisiana employers must provide employees with a reasonably safe workplace, including necessary safety devices that ensure the well-being, health, and safety of employees. State laws also address issues concerning air circulation, fumes, and safety guidelines for divers, boiler workers, and tunnel and caisson workers.
  • Equal opportunity and non-discrimination protection laws: Governor John Bel Edwards’ Executive Order 2016-11 protects employees from discrimination or harassment based on their race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, political affiliation, disability, or age during employment decisions, including hiring, promotion, tenure, recruitment, firing, or compensation. This Order applies to all entities and officers across Louisiana, marking the state’s first formal measures to safeguard transgender employees.
  • Whistleblower protection laws: Louisiana’s statutory provisions prohibit employers from terminating or discriminating against an employee who, in good faith, engages in any of the following activities: report or threaten to report any suspected legal violations, oppose or refuse to engage in an unlawful practice or report another employee for sexually abusing a minor.
  • Anti-discrimination laws related to smoking: According to Louisiana’s statutes, employers are prohibited from discriminating against an employee based on their smoking or nonsmoking status, including actions associated with discharge, compensation, promotion, any personnel action, or terms and privileges of employment. However, an employer is free to establish their own policies with regard to the consumption of tobacco in the workplace.
  • Social media protection laws: Under Louisiana’s employment laws, employers are forbidden from requesting or requiring an employee to disclose their password, username, or other authentication information that will enable an employer’s access to the employee’s personal account. Additionally, employers are also prohibited from taking personal action against employees for the failure to disclose such information.

Termination of Employment in Louisiana

What are the Termination Laws for Hourly Employees in Louisiana?

Louisiana is one of the many states in the U.S. that comply with the employment-at-will laws. This means that employers and employees can terminate the employment relationship at any time and their sole discretion, without the need to disclose their particular reasons for doing so. While these laws generally apply, there are several notable exceptions that restrict an employer’s liberty to end an employment relationship in particular situations. These exceptions are as follows:

  1. Breach of contract: The existence of an employment contract may dictate the particular circumstances that justify the termination of employment. In such cases, the employment relationship is no longer considered at-will in nature and employers no longer reserve the right to terminate their employee without specifying their valid reasons. Whether the employment contract has been established orally or in writing, employers must strictly adhere to its terms to avoid any legal consequences.
  2. Public policy: This exception prohibits employers from firing employees if it violates the state’s established public policies, such as terminating an employee for refusing to engage in illegal activities or for filing a rightful claim for worker’s compensation. 
  3. Retaliation: Federal and state laws prevent employers from retaliating against employees, including termination, for participating in discrimination hearings, testifying in court, filing discrimination complaints, or employing any necessary means to address workplace discrimination.
  4. Discrimination: At both state and federal levels, employers are prohibited from terminating employees based on protected factors such as sex, religion, age, national origin, color, genetic information, citizenship status, or sickle cell trait. Louisiana’s anti-discrimination laws apply specifically to state employers with a workforce of at least 20 employees. Additionally, discrimination based on childbirth, pregnancy, or related conditions is prohibited for state employers with 25 or more employees. 

Additionally, employees in Louisiana who have been terminated must be paid their final paychecks either by the next regularly scheduled payday or within 15 days from the date of termination, whichever occurs earlier.

Should Severance Pay Be Provided to Hourly Employees in Louisiana?

Severance pay is the financial compensation given by an employer to an employee upon the termination of their employment. It is typically calculated based on the employee’s length of service at the company and serves to temporarily provide financial support during the transitional period when an employee is in the search for a new job.

However, while severance pay may offer a vast range of benefits to employees, neither federal nor state laws in Louisiana require employers to make such payments. Instead, severance pay is a matter of agreement between an employer and an employee. Therefore, employers are only obligated to pay severance if the employment contract or employee handbook requires them to do so.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, having a comprehensive grasp of your hourly employment entitlements within the framework of employment laws is crucial for safeguarding both your legal rights and your overall welfare throughout your employment.

Given the fluctuating nature of employment laws, staying informed with the latest legal advancements is imperative for making informed decisions that contribute to the success of your career over time.

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.