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

April 9th 2024

Acquiring a solid grasp of your rights as an hourly employee extends well beyond mere adherence to the law. These rights play a pivotal role in facilitating your professional growth and nurturing your confidence as you progress in your career.

The income you earn as you clock in and out every day drastically shapes your professional status in the workplace. Due to the differences in employment laws across several U.S. states, you may have inquiries about how your particular employment entitlements correspond to your state’s regulations.

This is the very reason why we have thoughtfully written this article to tackle your questions about various aspects of hourly employment in Nebraska. Our purpose is to equip you with the necessary information needed to safeguard your legal rights throughout your employment journey.

This Article Covers

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

Defining an Hourly Employee in Nebraska

What is Hourly Employment in Nebraska?

In Nebraska, an hourly employee is defined as a worker whose pay is based on the hours they contribute in a specific pay period. This compensation type often results in income variations from every alternate paycheck.

To ensure that hourly workers are precisely compensated for the hours they work, employers frequently use time tracking apps to record their payable hours. On the other hand, salaried workers receive a fixed annual salary, independent of the actual hours worked.

Additionally, while hourly workers may qualify for overtime compensation, they may enjoy fewer employment benefits, like health insurance or retirement plans, than salaried workers.

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

Aspect Hourly Employees Salaried Employees
Compensation They are remunerated per hour.  They are remunerated on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. 
Overtime Pay Eligible to be compensated 1.5 times their hourly wage for working overtime. May not be eligible to be compensated 1.5 times their hourly wage for working overtime.
Minimum Wage Eligible to earn the state’s hourly minimum wage of $12.00. May not be eligible to earn the state’s hourly minimum wage of $12.00.
Employment Benefits Fewer job entitlements (such as health insurance or retirement plans). More job entitlements (such as health insurance or retirement plans).
Rest and Meal Breaks Employees have no entitlement to mandatory rest and meal breaks unless they work in assembling plants, mechanical establishments, and workshops. In such instances, a 30-minute lunch break must be given in each 8-hour shift. Employees have no entitlement to mandatory rest and meal breaks unless they work in assembling plants, mechanical establishments, and workshops. In such instances, a 30-minute lunch break must be given in each 8-hour shift.
Compensation Stability Compensation is based on the hours worked which, may result in an unstable income. Compensation is not based on the hours worked which, generates a fixed stable income.

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

Wage and Hour Regulations in Nebraska 

What are the Maximum Weekly Working Hours in Nebraska?

It’s crucial to acknowledge that federal and state laws do not implement a strict maximum limit on the number of hours an employee can work in any given week.

Nevertheless, employers are mandated by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to provide extra compensation to employees who have worked any hours beyond 40 hours in a week, at a rate of 150% of their regular hourly wage. With this in mind, it can be inferred that a regular work week typically comprises 40 hours.

What is the Minimum Wage for Hourly Employees in Nebraska?

Minimum wage is defined as the lowest monetary compensation a person can receive for each hour they work. While federal wage rules are regulated by the Fair Labor Standards Act, individual states possess the freedom to implement their own minimum hourly wage rates, which can be higher than the federal required minimum. Nebraska, in this regard, is one of the states that has set the minimum wage to be higher than the federal minimum wage requirement.

As of January 1st, 2024, Nebraska’s minimum wage laws have fixed its minimum wage at $12.00 per hour. The minimum wage is scheduled to increase annually in light of the rise of inflationary pressures.

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

The state of Nebraska adheres to the overtime regulations outlined in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). According to the federal overtime rules, any hours worked beyond 40 hours in a week are considered ‘overtime’, and employees are entitled to earn compensation at a rate of 1.5 times their regular hourly pay for each hour worked in excess. However, working on weekends and rest days does not require compensation unless an employer specifically demands an employee to work on these days under exceptional circumstances.

Do All Employees Earn the Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay in Nebraska?

It is worth acknowledging that employees working in certain occupations are not eligible to earn the minimum wage and overtime pay in the state, according to Nebrasaka’s statutory laws. These excluded employees comprise the following:

  • Tipped Employees: Employees who earn tips may receive a lower minimum hourly pay of  $2.13 per hour, this is provided that the tips combined with the hourly pay amount to the state’s minimum hourly wage of $12.
  • Full-time students: High school or college students who work part-time may receive a minimum hourly pay of $10.20 per hour, which is 85% of the state’s minimum hourly wage, for up to 20 hours of work in a given week.
  • Employees below the age of 20 years: According to federal law, employees below the age of 20 can earn a minimum hourly pay of $4.25 within the first 90 days of employment. After 90 days, they must earn the state’s minimum hourly wage.

Other job categories that are exempt from minimum wage and overtime pay include:

  • White-collar employees (i.e. bona fide executives, administrative workers, and professionals).
  • Outside salesmen.
  • Computer professional employees.
  • Administrative, executive, or professional employees.
  • Agricultural employees.
  • Employees working as babysitters in or about a private home.
  • Employees working as superintendents or supervisors.
  • Employees hired by the United States, the state, or any political subdivision thereof.
  • Employees working as volunteers for educational, charitable, religious, or nonprofit organizations.
  • Veterans in training under the supervision of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Children in the employment of their parent or parents in the employment of their child.

Rest Laws in Nebraska

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

Nebraska is one of the many states in the U.S. that follow the federal requirements of the FLSA regarding the compensation of meal and rest breaks. According to federal requirements, employers are not legally mandated to grant rest and meal breaks to their employees. However, if they opt to provide such breaks, they are required to provide compensation for rest breaks that last 20 minutes or less in duration. As for meal breaks, if this type of break extends for 30 minutes or more, they do not need to be compensated.

On the contrary, it should be noted that employees who work in assembling plants, mechanical establishments, and workshops are required to be given a 30-minute lunch break for every scheduled 8-hour shift.

According to the labor laws of Nebraska, employers may be obligated to make reasonable accommodations for employees who need to pump milk, which involves granting suitable break periods and facilities for this purpose. However, employers can be excluded from this requirement if providing such accommodations would impose an unreasonable burden on them.

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

In Nebraska, employees are given specific rights and protections through both federal and state laws about leaves of absence. These laws are designed to ensure that employees can take time away from work for various reasons without jeopardizing their employment. The leave of absence laws in Nebraska aim to assist and safeguard employees who need time off from work because of family emergencies, personal health matters, pregnancy, or tending to a new child.

Nebraska’s labor laws offer a variety of leaves of absence to accommodate the employee’s particular needs for taking time off. Some of the key laws governing leave of absence in Nebraska encompass:

  • Jury duty leave: Unlike other U.S. states, employees must be compensated by their employers for the time they have spent serving on a jury. 
  • Voting time leave: Employees must be given 2 hours of paid time off to vote in an election if they do not have sufficient time to vote while off duty. Furthermore, an employee must give notice of their leave in advance of election day and cannot have their income deducted for taking leave.
  • Military leave: In Nebraska, employees who are members of the reserves or National Guard must be given 120 hours worth of paid military leave every year.
  • Family military leave: In Nebraska, employees hired by employers with 15 or more employees have the right to take family military leave. To qualify for this leave, employees must meet specific requirements. They must be the parent or spouse of an individual called to active duty for more than 179 days, have completed at least 12 months of service with the same employer before the leave starts, and have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months prior to taking the leave. If an employee requests leave lasting more than five days, the employer may ask for a minimum of 14 days’ notice. During this leave, employees can maintain their health benefits at their own expense. The duration of the leave may vary depending on the employer’s size: those with 15 to 50 employees are required to provide up to 15 days of leave, while employers with more than 50 employees must provide up to 30 days of leave.
  • Family and medical leave: The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal legislation that offers eligible employees the legal right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave each year for particular family or serious health-related reasons. To become eligible for this leave, employees must meet the following criteria:
    1. They must have completed a minimum of 12 months of continuous service with the same employer before using this leave.
    2. They must have worked at least 1,250 hours over the 12-month period while employed by the same employer.
    3. Employment must be with an employer having at least 50 employees located within a 75-mile radius.

Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Nebraska

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

It is important to bear in mind that your employer has the authority to withhold a portion of your income for several purposes such as taxes, garnishments, and benefits like health insurance. Nonetheless, in recognition of the complex nature of payroll deductions and the likelihood of unauthorized wage withholdings, both federal and state laws have been put in place to protect your income against improper deductions.

In Nebraska, the statutory laws mandate that an employer may is only permitted to withhold or deduct wages from an employee’s paycheck if:

  • They are allowed to do so by state or federal law.
  • They are required to do so.
  • The employee has given written consent.

Furthermore, an employer may deduct any of the following items from an employee’s paycheck only if written consent has been sought from the employee before making such deductions: 

  • cash shortages.
  • breakage, damage, or loss of the employer’s property.
  • required uniforms.
  • required tools.
  • other items necessary for employment.[/sc_fs_faq]

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

As an hourly employee, it is imperative to remain aware of your employment rights and compensation benefits throughout your tenure. Below is a list of the diverse employment benefits available to you in Nebraska:

  • Minimum wage: Employees in Nebraska are legally entitled to earn the state’s minimum hourly wage of $12.00 according to the state’s wage and hour laws.
  • Overtime: The federal overtime laws mandate employers to pay non-exempt employees 1.5 times their standard hourly wage for any hours worked more than 40 hours a week.
  • Worker’s compensation insurance: As per Nebraska’s Workers’ Compensation Act, employees hired by employers in the construction industry or those with three or more employees are eligible to receive several kinds of benefits under the Act when they sustain work-related injuries or illnesses arising out of and in the course of their employment. Furthermore, employees must immediately report any injuries they have sustained in a prompt manner to prevent a denial of their benefits.
  • Unemployment insurance benefits: Unemployment insurance benefits provide temporary income to individuals who have lost employment through no fault of their own. These benefits are meant to partially offset the loss of wage as the unemployed worker searches for new career opportunities or await to be recalled by their employer. In addition, nothing is deducted from an employee’s income to cover this insurance.
  • Extended health insurance benefits: COBRA is a federal law that permits many employees to lengthen their healthcare benefits post-employment. Because federal COBRA applies only to employers with at least 20 or more employees, some states have implemented their type of COBRAs, generally termed “mini-COBRAs.” Nebraska’s mini-COBRA extends coverage for up to 6 months and requires employers to send their employees a detailed COBRA notice by certified mail within 10 days from the employee’s last working day.

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

Federal and state authorities have implemented a range of legislations intended to protect employees from an array of workplace inequalities. These laws address matters concerning health and safety, discrimination, the reporting of misconduct, and various other issues. The following compilation outlines the key legal provisions that ensure the protection of your rights and well-being during your employment.

  • Whistleblower protection laws: Nebraska’s labor laws protect employees from being retaliated against by their employers for reporting illegal workplace practices done by the employer. This safeguard does not apply to complaints raised by an employee concerning actions carried out by other employees.
  • Right-to-work protection laws: Nebraska is a right-to-work state, which means employees are granted the freedom to abstain from joining or supporting unions, choose their representatives for collective bargaining, and engage in legal collective activities for mutual aid and protection. Employers cannot make employment decisions or agreements based on the individual’s union membership or lack thereof.
  • Child labor protection laws: In summary, Nebraska’s child labor laws safeguard the health and well-being of employed minors in various job settings. These laws involve restrictions on the types of occupations minors can work in, the places where they can work, the hours they are allowed to work, and the minimum age for employment.
  • Anti-discrimination protection laws: According to federal law, it is unlawful for an employer to engage in discrimination related to various characteristics, including race, color, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, pregnancy, genetic information, disability, child or spousal support withholding, military or veteran status, and citizenship/immigration status. In addition to this, Nebraska also forbids employers from discriminating against employees based on their marital status and whether they have AIDS/HIV.

Termination of Employment in Nebraska

What are the Termination Laws for Hourly Employees in Nebraska?

Nebraska, like numerous other U.S. states, adheres to the employment-at-will doctrine. According to the at-will laws, both employers and employees are afforded the freedom to end the employment arrangement at their discretion, with or without a reason, and at any given time. While this legal principle typically prevails, both federal and state legislations introduce particular exemptions that limit the extensive scope of this doctrine and dictate what actions may amount to wrongful termination. These exemptions encompass the following:

  • Breach of contract: Like all contracts established in Nebraska, a breach of an employment contract may result in legal proceedings being brought against the responsible party for the damages consequently caused by their actions. Employment contracts may specify whether an employee is considered at-will or not and may also outline the particular grounds for termination, which consequently protects employees from certain grounds of termination. These laws apply to all contracts established orally, in writing, or the form of a collective bargaining agreement with a union.
  • Public policy: Common law acknowledges a public policy exception to at-will employment, which recognizes that certain employment actions that contravene public interest should not be protected. In Nebraska, specific statutes determine which actions may be considered as falling under public policy, either by endorsing or prohibiting those actions. For instance, it is deemed a violation of public policy to terminate an employee who is lawfully collecting workers’ compensation benefits and refuses to engage in perjury.
  • Retaliation: Nebraska’s employees are protected under federal and state law from being retaliated against by their employers through termination for asserting their employment rights. For instance,  the laws of Nebraska prohibit employers from taking negative employment actions against employees who submit a complaint or testify about their claim. Furthermore, employees cannot be retaliated against by their employers under federal law for participating in activities that are legal and necessary such as participating in union activities.
  • Discrimination: According to the State Fair Employment Act and Age Discrimination in Employment Act, employers are prohibited from making any employment decisions based on an employee’s or applicant’s gender, race, color, marital status, disability, pregnancy, ethnicity, religion, national origin, or age. Moreover, it is illegal to treat employees differently than other workers for the possession of these traits. The laws at the federal level are also established to provide the same safeguard.

Furthermore, the laws in Nebraska mandate employers to issue their departing employees their final paycheck by the next regularly scheduled payday or within 2 weeks from their last working day, whichever occurs earlier.

Should Severance Pay Be Provided to Hourly Employees in Nebraska?

Severance pay, a type of monetary compensation offered by employers to departing employees, plays a fundamental role in financially supporting individuals as they transition from one job to another and seek new job opportunities. The specific amount is typically calculated based on the employee’s tenure with the company, often equating to one week’s salary for every year worked.

While severance pay is an advantageous employment benefit, federal and state laws do not mandate its provision. Instead, it hinges on mutual agreement between the employer and the employee. Hence, if the employment contract or a collective bargaining agreement explicitly obligates the provision of severance pay, the employer is mandated to make such payments to avoid potential breach of contract lawsuits filed against them.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, it remains evident why possessing a robust comprehension of your rights as an hourly employee is extremely important. Being well-informed about termination regulations, wage payment, leave policies, employment benefits, and protective measures not only prepares you to safeguard your well-being in case of workplace infringements but also keeps you ahead of the game. 

Given the ever-changing nature of employment laws, staying updated on the latest legal advancements in the employment field is equally vital, as this knowledge is fundamental for making informed choices throughout your employment journey.

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.