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

April 7th 2024

For hourly employees in Missouri, knowing your rights surpass mere legal requirements; it is a route to developing confidence and empowerment in your career journey.

As you punch in and out each day, the compensation you earn for your hard work holds a significant role in your status within the workplace. You may begin contemplating your employee rights and how to effectively assert them. However, it is crucial to recognize that the specifics of these rights can differ considerably from one state to another across the United States.

If you’re an hourly worker in Missouri, this article is specifically tailored for you. Our objective is not only to furnish you with vital information safeguarding your equitable rights but also to empower you to proactively shape your work experience in a manner that aligns with Missouri’s distinct legal and regulatory landscape.

This Article Covers

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

Defining an Hourly Employee in Missouri

What is Hourly Employment in Missouri?

In Missouri, an hourly employee refers to an individual whose compensation is determined based on the number of hours they dedicate to their work during a given week. This stands in contrast to salaried workers who receive a fixed pay irrespective of their weekly work hours. Hourly wage employees in Missouri typically establish specific employment agreements with their employers, often utilizing tools such as time cards or timesheets to diligently record their work hours. The responsibility for ascertaining the number of hours these employees contribute on a weekly basis rests with their employers.

The remuneration for hourly wage workers in Missouri is closely tied to the actual hours they invest in their work. Unlike their salaried counterparts who enjoy predetermined pay, those on hourly wages have their earnings intricately linked with their work schedule. Consequently, their income can exhibit variations from one week to the next.

Furthermore, other distinct features of hourly employment include the minimum wage and overtime requirement. Most hourly employees are entitled to earn the state’s minimum wage and while there are no rigid constraints imposed on the maximum number of hours an adult can work within a week, specific guidelines govern hourly pay when it surpasses designated weekly thresholds which entitles hourly employees to overtime payment.

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

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

Aspect Hourly Employees Salaried Employees
Pay Frequency Paid for every hour worked. Paid on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. 
Overtime Laws Qualified to earn overtime pay at the rate of 1.5 times the regular hourly pay according to the state’s labor laws. May not be qualified to earn overtime pay at the rate of 1.5 times the regular hourly pay according to the state’s labor laws.
Minimum Wage Laws Qualified to earn $12.30 per hour as set by the state’s minimum wage law. May not be qualified to earn $12.30 per hour if they are classed as exempt by the state’s minimum wage law.
Jury Duty Leave Must be able to take jury duty leave to respond to a jury summons. Must be able to take jury duty leave to respond to a jury summons.
Rest and Meal Breaks No right to mandatory rest and meal breaks. No right to mandatory rest and meal breaks.
Anti-discrimination Laws Federal and state laws make it illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on their protected characteristics. Federal and state laws make it illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on their protected characteristics.
Career advancement opportunities Jobs following an hourly employment framework are generally positioned in the lower tiers of a company’s hierarchy, posing challenges for career advancement. Salaried employees are more likely to progress in their careers, including obtaining salary increases and promotions, as the structure of their work often enables them to assume greater responsibilities within their company.
Final Paychecks They are entitled by state law to receive their final paychecks on the day of discharge or within 7 days from the day they submit a written request for payment to their employer. They are entitled by state law to receive their final paychecks on the day of discharge or within 7 days from the day they submit a written request for payment to their employer.

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

Wage and Hour Regulations in Missouri

What are the Maximum Weekly Working Hours in Missouri?

Under Missouri law, there isn’t a strict upper limit on the number of hours an employee can work in a single day or week. However, it’s important to note that Missouri labor regulations govern overtime compensation for non-exempt employees. According to Missouri labor laws, non-exempt employees become eligible for overtime pay when they:

  • Work beyond 40 hours in a single workweek: Overtime compensation in Missouri is calculated at a rate of one and a half times the regular pay rate for eligible employees for each hour worked beyond the 40-hour threshold in a workweek. Employers are legally obligated to provide this overtime compensation to eligible employees.

What is the Minimum Wage for Hourly Employees in Missouri?

As of January 1, 2024, the minimum wage for hourly employees in Missouri is $12.30 per hour with the potential for annual adjustments to account for fluctuations in the cost of living as determined by the Consumer Price Index. This wage rate applies to all employers in the state and reflects the result of a voter-approved initiative in 2018. 

Missouri maintains distinct regulations dictating the minimum wage that employers are obliged to provide their employees, independently of the Federal Minimum Wage. It is essential to note that employees are entitled to the higher of the two minimum wages, whether it be the state or federal rate. These wage regulations are intended to provide some flexibility while still ensuring that workers receive a reasonable minimum wage in the state of Missouri.

Do All Employees Earn the Minimum Wage in Missouri?

Notably, it is important to acknowledge that there are exceptions to the minimum wage law in Missouri. Employees working in certain occupations are exempt from earning the minimum wage under state law. These employees are as follows.

  • Tipped Workers
  • Full-time students
  • Workers below the age of 20
  • Computer professional employees
  • Administrative, executive, or professional employees
  • Employees who work for educational, charitable, religious, or nonprofit organizations on a voluntary basis
  • Persons who stand in loco parentis to foster children in their care
  • Persons who work less than four months in any year in a resident or day camp for children or youth
  • Persons who work for an educational conference center that is run by an educational, charitable, or not-for-profit organization
  • Newspaper delivery men
  • Golf caddies
  • Employees in educational organizations who work to offset tuition, housing, or other fees
  • Persons who work occasionally for six hours or less at a private residence
  • Handicapped individuals working in a sheltered workshop certified by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Persons who babysit on a casual basis
  • Persons who work for any government position defined in 29 U.S.C. §§ 203(e)(2)(C)(i)-(ii)
  • Incarcerated offenders, as defined in Missouri Statute 217.010, working in correctional facilities run by the Department of Corrections, including those providing labor or services on the facility grounds under section 217.550
  • Persons who earn from sales commissions, not substantially controlled in work hours or location by employers
  • Employees working for a retail or service business with an annual gross volume sales of less than $500,000
  • Employees under an employer subject to the provisions of part A of subtitle IV of title 49, United States Code, 49 U.S.C. §§ 10101 et seq

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

In Missouri, overtime pay is defined as one and a half times an employee’s regular hourly wage. Therefore, the overtime minimum wage in Missouri is $18.45 per hour, which is 1.5 times the standard Missouri minimum wage of $12.30 per hour. This means that if an employee’s regular hourly wage exceeds the state’s minimum wage rate, they are still entitled to receive overtime pay at a rate of at least $18.45 per hour for all overtime hours worked.

Additionally, under both Missouri state law and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), overtime compensation must be provided for all hours worked over 40 in a single workweek. This means that when an employee works more than 40 hours in a week, they are entitled to receive overtime pay at the rate of one and a half times their regular hourly wage for each additional hour worked beyond the 40-hour threshold.

It’s important to note that the FLSA automatically qualifies certain types of workers for overtime pay if they meet the relevant criteria. Typically, employees engaged in manual labor, such as construction workers, factory attendants, and cashiers, are among those protected by overtime laws. However, it’s essential to understand that there are specific exemptions to overtime eligibility for certain job categories, and not all workers are covered by these regulations.

First responders, including police, paramedics, and firefighters, are explicitly offered overtime protection under the FLSA and are entitled to overtime pay for hours worked beyond the 40-hour limit in a workweek. Overtime laws, both in Missouri and nationally, are designed to protect hourly wage earners from employer exploitation and ensure fair compensation for their additional work hours.

Rest Laws in Missouri

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

In Missouri, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which sets the federal employment standards, does not mandate employers to provide specific meals or rest breaks to their employees. This means that employers in Missouri are not legally obligated to offer designated times for employees to take breaks for meals or rest.

While federal law does obligate employers to compensate employees for all hours worked, including breaks lasting less than 20 minutes during the workday, it does not mandate the provision of such breaks. Therefore, whether an employer allows meal or rest breaks is typically a matter of company policy and custom rather than a legal requirement under federal regulations. However, if an employer chooses to offer meal breaks during which employees are relieved of all job duties, they are not required to pay the employee for that time.

In addition, it is worth noting that some states have implemented their own laws that mandate meal or rest breaks for employees, but Missouri does not follow this trend. In Missouri, employers must adhere to the federal rules, which dictate that they must pay employees for the time they spend working and for shorter breaks during the workday if provided.

Furthermore, federal and state labor laws permit Missouri employees to take short periodic breaks throughout the working day to express milk for their infant child. Missouri’s statutory laws provide that “a mother may, with discretion, breastfeed her child or express breast milk in any public or private location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be”. The Fair Labor Standards Act mandates employers to provide employees with reasonable break time to express their breast milk for their baby one year after child delivery in a private non-restroom place that is free from intrusion of co-workers and the public. However, employers with less than 50 employees are exempt from these requirements if such efforts constitute an undue hardship on the employer.

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

Many U.S. states have several primary laws governing time off and leave tailored to suit the individual needs of employees. Let us now take a look at the various types of leaves available to hourly employees in the state of Missouri. Here’s an overview:

  • Jury duty leave: Employees do not need to be paid for the time they have spent responding to a jury summons but cannot be punished in any way for doing so and are not required to use any available leave in substitute for the jury duty leave.
  • Medical and family leave: The provisions stipulated under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) offer employees 12 weeks of unpaid annual leave to attend to matters relating to serious medical conditions of the employee or their immediate family member, the birth or adoption of a child or certain military activities. However, for an employee to be eligible for this leave, they must:
    1. Have worked under the same employer for a minimum of 12 months before using their leave.
    2. Have worked for at least 1,250 hours within those 12 months of employment under the same employer.
    3. Be employed by an employer with a workforce of 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius.
  • Witness leave: Upon written request, Missouri employers must provide their employees with leave of absence to prepare for and attend criminal proceedings. Furthermore, no adverse personnel actions can be taken against an employee for taking such leave and employees cannot be required to use vacation time, personal time, or sick leave for this matter.
  • Crime victim leaves: Upon written request, Missouri employers must provide their employees who are crime victims (or their immediate family members) with a leave of absence to prepare for and attend criminal proceedings. Furthermore, no adverse personnel actions can be taken against an employee for taking such leave and employees cannot be required to use vacation time, personal time, or sick leave for this matter.
  • Voting leave: In Missouri, employees must be given 3 hours of time off from work to vote if they have given prior notice and if there is a lack of time before or after their shift.
  • Emergency response leave: Employees must be granted an unpaid leave to respond to an emergency and carry out their duties as a volunteer firefighter, or a member of Missouri-1 Disaster Medical Assistance Team, Missouri Task Force One, Urban Search and Rescue Team, or FEMA.
  • Military leave: Employees who are military members are entitled to take military leave when they are called to serve the military under The federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). Furthermore, this Act applies to all employers in the United States.

Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Missouri

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

As an hourly employee, it is essential to grasp the nuances of wage deductions. In many U.S. states, there are specific laws and regulations that regulate the timing and method of these deductions from an employee’s pay. These laws are intended to protect your earnings from unauthorized deductions. Let us now explore how wage deductions are governed in the state of Missouri.

Interestingly, in Missouri, the specific rules surrounding wage deductions from an employee’s paycheck remain scant. Therefore, an employer can deduct any of the following from an employee’s paycheck, provided that such deductions do not result in the wages of the employee falling below the state or federal minimum wage. 

  • Tools
  • Equipment
  • Uniforms
  • Laundry or cleaning of uniforms
  • Maintenance of tools, equipment, or uniforms
  • Breakage or loss of tools, equipment, or uniforms
  • Any additional item mandated by the employer to be worn or utilized by the employee as a prerequisite for employment

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

Under Missouri state law, hourly employees are entitled to various employment benefits throughout their tenure. Below are some of the key entitlements provided to hourly employees in Missouri:

  • Overtime Pay: Eligible hourly employees in Missouri are entitled to earn overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a single workweek. Overtime compensation is calculated at a rate of one and one-half (1.5) times the employee’s regular hourly wage. It’s important to note that both federal and state laws apply to overtime regulations, and employees cannot waive their right to overtime pay in exchange for straight-time compensation.
  • Minimum Wage: Eligible hourly employees in Missouri are entitled to earn the minimum wage of $12.30 for every hour worked according to the state’s minimum wage law.
  • Worker’s Compensation Insurance: An employee who has sustained work-related injuries and/or diseases arising out of and in the course of employment is qualified to receive workers’ compensation insurance benefits to cover the medical expenses of aiding these injuries. An employee is only able to receive these benefits if their injury arose in or out of the course of their employment and is a prevailing factor in causing both the resulting medical condition and disability. Furthermore, injuries that have arisen from commuting to and from work and injuries with an unknown cause are not covered.
  • Unemployment Insurance: Unemployment insurance benefits offer temporary financial support to individuals who have involuntarily lost their jobs. Intended to help mitigate the effect of wage loss, these benefits help unemployed individuals in their search for new career opportunities or while waiting to be recalled by their employer. Importantly, there is no deduction from an employee’s income to fund this insurance.
  • Extended Health Insurance: The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) at the federal level permits employees to prolong their health insurance coverage after leaving a job. As this federal law applies only to workplaces with 20 or more employees, Missouri has enacted its own version, permitting individuals to maintain health insurance coverage for up to 18 months. Each certification of coverage must include information about the right to extend coverage. Within 30 days of the triggering event, employers are mandated to furnish employees with a notification outlining their rights under COBRA.

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

Under Missouri state law, employees are given several important protections that govern various aspects of the employment relationship. These protections constitute a wide range of employment practices and ensure fairness, equal treatment, and employee rights. Here are the primary employee protections provided under Missouri state law:

  • Anti-Discrimination Laws: Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on their membership in protected classes. These classes typically include characteristics such as race, color, national origin, age, religion, disability, sex, and other categories. Employers are legally obligated to treat all employees fairly and without discrimination in matters concerning hiring, promotions, compensation, and termination. In addition, Missouri employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees based on their lawful consumption of alcohol or tobacco products off working premises and outside of working hours as well as their AIDS/HIV status.
  • Employee Monitoring Protection: In Missouri, employers are prohibited from listening or recording the wire communications of their employees unless one party to the conversation consents.
  • Minimum Wage Protections: Missouri, like most states, has minimum wage laws fixed in place to ensure that employees receive a fair wage for their hard work. Employers must pay employees at least the minimum wage rate set by state law. Additionally, certain local jurisdictions in Missouri may have their own minimum wage requirements.
  • Child Labor Protections: The state of Missouri has implemented strict laws that regulate child labor to ensure that the well-being and safety of minors are protected at all costs throughout their tenure. For example, the state has implemented legal restrictions surrounding the employment of a minor with regard to their age, the type of occupation a minor is allowed to work in as well as employment when school is not in session.

Termination of Employment in Missouri

What are the Termination Laws for Hourly Employees in Missouri?

In Missouri, the principle of “employment-at-will” governs the termination of hourly employees, which means that, without a written employment contract, employees can be terminated for any reason at any time, as long as the reason is not discriminatory and does not involve retaliation against the employee for exercising their legal rights. Below is a further elaboration of the exceptions to the employment-at-will laws with regard to hourly employees in Missouri:

  • Breach of contract: Parties are legally bound to a contract that expressly stipulates terms of employment. Therefore, any statements surrounding the duration of the employment agreement must be adhered to. The same applies to collective bargaining agreements. So if the company’s policies and procedures list grounds for the termination of an employee, the employer must be sure to terminate the employee according to those grounds to prevent contractual breaches.
  • Discrimination: While the at-will doctrine permits employers to terminate employees without cause, it does not give them the right to terminate based on discriminatory factors or in retaliation for protected activities. Hourly employees are protected from termination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, and other protected characteristics under federal and state anti-discrimination laws.
  • Retaliation: If an hourly employee asserts their workplace rights and is terminated for doing so, such termination is regarded as retaliatory discharge, which is disallowed by law. Activities protected from this kind of action include filing a claim for discrimination or workers’ compensation, participating in discrimination litigation, and reporting an employer’s violation of the law (such as unsafe work conditions, breach of minimum wage laws, or child labor laws). Employees engaged in these protected activities are prohibited from being fired for their actions.
  • Public policy: It is illegal for an employee to be discharged for their refusal to commit a crime during the course of their employment. Employees cannot be coerced to infringe statutes, policies, or governmental regulations. However, for a claim to succeed, the employee must be able to prove that the refusal to commit the action is expressly against the law and that their refusal is directly related to the dismissal.

Furthermore, the labor laws in Missouri mandate employers to pay terminated employees their final paychecks on the day of discharge or within seven days of the employee’s request for payment. Should the employer fail to issue the employee’s paycheck within 7 days, a lawsuit may be filed against the employer for such actions.

Should Severance Pay Be Provided to Hourly Employees in Missouri?

Financial compensation given by employers to departing employees, known as severance pay, plays a fundamental role in supporting individuals during their transition and job search following unemployment. The exact amount is typically determined by the employee’s tenure with the company, often amounting to one week’s salary for every year of service. While it is customary for this compensation to be paid as a lump sum, it may also be disbursed in several installments.

It is essential to recognize that severance pay, despite being a valuable employment benefit, is not required by federal or state laws. Instead, its provision depends on the mutual agreement between the employer and the employee. Consequently, if the terms stipulated in the employment contract or a collective bargaining agreement explicitly mandate severance pay, the employer must provide it to prevent potential breach of contract claims.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, it is apparent why having a solid comprehension of your rights as an hourly employee is crucial. Being knowledgeable about regulations concerning termination, wages, leaves, employment perks, and protections not only prepares you to safeguard your well-being in case of workplace violations but also ensures you remain informed and proactive.

Given the dynamic nature of employment laws, staying abreast with recent legal developments in the employment sector is equally fundamental. This information is crucial for making informed decisions throughout your tenure, considering the ongoing changes in employment regulations.

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.