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

April 11th 2024

Understanding your rights concerning hourly employment is not only a matter of legal compliance but is also the key to nurturing your professional development while providing you with the confidence needed to steer your career path.

The income that you earn daily, profoundly shapes your position within the professional landscape. While employment laws differ across U.S. states, you might find yourself pondering over your specific employment entitlements to ensure they align with the laws of your particular state.

Therefore, we have meticulously crafted this article to address your inquiries about various aspects of employment. Its objective is to furnish you with the pertinent information required to protect your legal rights throughout your employment.

This Article Covers

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

Defining an Hourly Employee in North Dakota

What is Hourly Employment in North Dakota?

An hourly employee in North Dakota can be simply defined as an employee who is compensated based on the hours they have worked in a given pay period. Due to the work structure of hourly employees, their income typically varies from one pay period to the next as the working hours are decided by their employers.

Another distinguishing feature of hourly employment is the significance of timekeeping. Employers typically utilize time tracking tools to monitor the payable hours of hourly employees to ensure that they are accurately and fairly paid in strict accordance with their work hours. So for instance, timesheets or time cards may be used to record the hours put in by employees working in a factory.

On the contrary, a salaried employee earns a fixed yearly amount independent of the actual hours they have worked. That means, while salaried employees may use timesheets to record their attendance, their working hours are not reflected in their paycheck like the way it is for an hourly employee.

In addition, an hourly employee may be qualified to earn additional compensation for working overtime (beyond 40 hours in a week). However, they may also receive fewer job benefits, such as health insurance or retirement benefits, in comparison to a salaried employee.

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

Aspect Hourly Employees Salaried Employees
Pay Frequency Paid for each 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 wage under federal law. May not be qualified to earn overtime pay at the rate of 1.5 times the regular hourly wage if they are considered non-exempt by federal law.
Minimum Wage Laws Qualified to earn the state’s minimum wage of $7.25 according to federal law. May not be qualified to earn the state’s minimum wage of $7.25 if they are considered non-exempt by federal law.
Severance Pay No legal entitlement to receive severance pay as federal and state laws do not mandate its provision.  No legal entitlement to receive severance pay as federal and state laws do not mandate its provision. 
Rest and Meal Breaks They are legally entitled by state law to receive a 30-minute meal break if they are scheduled to work for more than 5 hours and 2 or more employees are on duty. They are legally entitled by state law to receive a 30-minute meal break if they are scheduled to work for more than 5 hours and 2 or more employees are on duty.
Income Stability May face frequent changes in work hours based on the employer’s demands resulting in a fluctuating income.  Typically have fixed working hours resulting in a fixed and stable income structure.
Holiday Leave Not required to receive a paid or unpaid leave of absence for holidays. Not required to receive a paid or unpaid leave of absence for holidays.
Sick Leave Not required to receive a paid or unpaid leave of absence for sick days unless the established policies in the employee handbook require it. Not required to receive a paid or unpaid leave of absence for sick days unless the established policies in the employee handbook require it.

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

Wage and Hour Regulations in North Dakota

What are the Maximum Weekly Working Hours in North Dakota?

In the state of North Dakota, there is no strict upper limit on the number of hours an employee is obliged to work each week. According to the federal provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees who have worked beyond 40 hours in a week must be paid at a rate of 150% of their regular hourly pay. In light of this information, it can be inferred that the standard workweek usually consists of 40 hours.

The topic of maximum weekly working hours is an important one in the aspect of employment regulations. These regulations aim to safeguard employees from being exploited in their employment by imposing a limit to the number of hours they can work to avoid burnout, low productivity, and most importantly, any serious health issues that may arise from overworking.

However, it is important to note that employees of certain age groups or occupations are an exception to this general requirement. For example, employed minors are typically protected from working overtime for the sake of their wellbeing while an employee working on a seasonal basis at an amusement park is exempt from earning overtime compensation if they have worked overtime hours.

What is the Minimum Wage for Hourly Employees in North Dakota?

In the state of North Dakota, the current minimum wage follows the minimum wage requirements of the FLSA, which is $7.25 for every hour worked. That means an hourly employee in North Dakota would typically earn a weekly wage of $290 per hour in a single 40-hour work week.

The term “minimum wage” refers to the minimum hourly payment that employees can earn in return for their labor. While the FLSA governs federal wage requirements, individual states have the prerogative to implement a minimum wage that is higher than the federal standard.

Minimum wage laws exist to ensure employees earn a decent amount of money to keep up with the costs of living, in return for their hard-earned labor. However, it is worth acknowledging that the minimum wage may be subject to changes as a consequence of legislative actions and regular evaluations. These modifications typically take into account factors such as inflation, the cost of living, and the overall economic conditions, both within the state of North Dakota and on a national scale.

Do All Employees Earn the Minimum Wage in North Dakota?

While some employees are entitled to earn the state’s minimum hourly pay, it is imperative to acknowledge that state laws offer legal exceptions for specific groups of employees concerning both the minimum wage and overtime requirements. The employees who are exempt from earning both the state’s minimum wage and overtime pay comprise the following:

  • Tipped Employees.
  • Full-time students.
  • Outside salesmen.
  • Employees who work in an administrative, executive, or professional capacity.
  • Employees who are computer professionals.
  • Persons who offer family home care.
  • Student trainees.
  • Volunteers.
  • Employees of nonprofit camps that are directly youth-related and meant for educational purposes.
  • Guides, cooks, or camp-tenders for a hunting or fishing guide service.
  • Prisoners who work for a prison.
  • Individuals in a program for young or first-time offenders, serve as an alternative to incarceration.
  • Actors or extras of a movie.
  • Golf caddies.
  • Persons who enter into agreements to offer room, meals, supervision, and personal assistance to elderly or disabled individuals, as well as their spouses or relatives.
  • Persons offering overnight companionship services to elderly or disabled persons, with the flexibility to sleep and participate in private activities in the client’s home during their shift.

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

Overtime laws are vital for the protection of an employee’s well-being by limiting excessive work hours, which can result in physical and mental health issues such as burnout and stress. They help guarantee fair compensation for additional hours worked, reducing economic strain on employees and boosting financial security. 

Moreover, overtime laws dissuade employers from exploiting their employees by implementing strict boundaries on additional work hours and providing incentives for employers to hire more staff rather than overburdening their existing workforce. These laws have an important influence on maintaining a good work-life balance while nurturing a healthier and more respectful work environment.

In North Dakota, the state follows the overtime requirements established by the FLSA. The federal provisions dictate that any employee working over 40 hours a week must receive monetary compensation at a wage rate of 1.5 times their standard hourly pay. Therefore, if you find yourself working overtime, you are rightly entitled under federal law to be compensated at a flat pay rate of $10.88 for each hour worked more than your regular weekly scheduled hours.

Do all Employees Earn Overtime Pay in North Dakota?

Although some employees are eligible to earn the state’s overtime wage, it is crucial to note that state laws recognize certain categories of employees who are strictly only exempt from earning overtime pay. These exempted employee groups encompass the following:

  • Highly paid employees.
  • Employees working for radio or television stations as announcers, news editors, or chief engineers.
  • Technicians are compensated based on commissions derived from a fixed-rate schedule.
  • Employees excluded from the Fair Labor Standards Act as defined by the Motor Carrier Act for those working in motor common, contract, and private carrier roles.
  • Retail employees are exempt from certain Fair Labor Standards Act provisions when their regular pay is at least 1.5 times the minimum wage and over half of their income for a month comes from sales commissions.
  • Agricultural employees.
  • Individuals primarily engaged in providing direct care to clients at shelters, foster care facilities, or similar establishments, where the focus is on temporary shelter, crisis prevention, education, and support, and who spend at least 51% of their work time in such activities.
  • Workers in domestic service who live in the same household where they are employed.
  • A salesperson in retail vehicle dealerships, such as automobiles, trailers, boats, aircraft, trucks, or farm implements, is exempt from certain regulations if they work on straight commission and are not required to be on the premises for more than forty hours per week.
  • Employees working for an employer that hires 80% of their workforce are covered by federal laws regarding maximum work hours and overtime pay.
  • Seasonal employees of a commercial whitewater outfitter who work on a seasonal basis (less than seven months in a calendar year).
  • Seasonal employees of an amusement park who work on a seasonal basis (less than seven months in a calendar year).

Rest Laws in North Dakota

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

In North Dakota, the employment laws of the state mandate employers to provide employees with a 30-minute meal break if they are scheduled to work for more than 5 hours and two or more employees are on duty. These meal breaks may remain unpaid for if the break is 30 minutes in length and if the employee is completely relieved from their work duties during that time; should the employee be required to perform work duties during their meal break, they must be paid for that time as they are not completely relieved. 

Furthermore, state law requires retail employers to permit employees to have at least 24 consecutive hours off from work in seven days. Retail employers must also allow employees to take time off from work to attend worship services once a week unless it would substantially burden the economic operations of the business or the other employees who are required to cover for the absent employee. Employers must also make reasonable efforts to accommodate the request of the employee. 

Additionally, state laws do not require employers to provide breastfeeding breaks for nursing mothers. However, if an employer decides to offer such breaks, they are mandated to establish a workplace breastfeeding policy. This policy should include the provisions below:

  • Flexible work scheduling, including scheduling breaks and allowing work patterns that provide time for expressing breast milk.
  • A convenient, sanitary, safe, and private, non-restroom area that allows privacy for breastfeeding or expressing breast milk.
  • A convenient, clean, and safe water source with facilities for washing hands and rinsing breast-pumping equipment in a private area.
  • A convenient hygienic refrigerator in the workplace for temporarily storing the mother’s breast milk.

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

In the United States, employees are typically granted leaves of absence to attend to personal, medical, or family matters. Certain types of these leaves are regulated by either state or federal legislation, which mandates that eligible employees who meet the specific requirements must be given these leaves. In North Dakota, both state and federal laws enforce various types of leave, guaranteeing employees the legal entitlement to use them. The list below encompasses several types of leaves that you are rightly entitled to as an hourly employee in North Dakota.

  • The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993: The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law that provides eligible employees with 12 weeks of unpaid, employment-protected leave each year for qualifying family or serious health-related matters. Employees are only eligible for this leave if: 
    • They were employed by the same employer for a minimum of 12 months prior to using the leave.
    • They have worked for at least 1,250 hours within the 12 months of working under the same employer. 
    • They work for an employer with a minimum of 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
  • Jury duty leave: Under state law, employers are not allowed to retaliate against employees for serving jury duty and do not have to pay for the time they have spent responding to a jury summons.
  • Witness leave: The laws of North Dakota prohibit employers from taking adverse personnel actions against an employee who takes a leave of absence to appear as a witness in court.
  • Military leave: Employees, who are military members, are legally entitled under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act to take leave of absence for their military service. Furthermore, they are also entitled to return to their previously held employment position with the same leave benefits (such as sick leave, vacation leave, and annual leave) that they would have otherwise earned if they had not taken military leave. Employers are prohibited from firing these employees without cause for one year after they have taken their military leave.

Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in North Dakota

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

There are several reasons why an employer may withhold your wages. However, there are specific laws typically set by the state to ensure payroll deductions are done accurately and to prevent employers from wrongfully deducting an employee’s wages. In North Dakota, the state’s statutory laws only permit an employer to deduct from an employee’s wages if:

  • They have been mandated to do so by state or federal law.
  • The employee has consented to the deductions in writing.

Furthermore, with the written consent from the employee, the employer may deduct from the employee’s paycheck for a range of purposes, which include covering cash shortages, breakage, damage, or loss of the employer’s property, obtaining required uniforms and tools, or covering the expenses of other items necessary for employment.

What are the Provided Hourly Employees Entitlements Under North Dakota State Law?

As an hourly worker in the state of North Dakota, it is important to recognize that you acquire various employment rights and compensation benefits that you have a legitimate claim to during the course of your employment. Below are some of the many work privileges available to you:

  • Minimum wage:  Federal minimum wage laws entitle you to the legal right to earn the federally mandated minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
  • Overtime: Under federal law, you are legally entitled to be compensated at a pay rate of one and a half times your regular hourly wage for every hour worked overtime.
  • Worker’s compensation insurance: According to the North Dakota Workers’ Compensation Act, almost every employer in the state (with limited exceptions) is required to cover for employees who have sustained work-related injuries or illnesses. Furthermore, employees may be eligible to obtain several benefits under the Act. 
  • Unemployment insurance benefits: Unemployment insurance benefits are designed to provide temporary financial support to individuals who are out of work through no fault of their own. These benefits serve to partially make up for the loss of wages as the unemployed individual searches for new job opportunities until they are once again employed. It’s important to acknowledge that nothing from an employee’s paycheck is deducted for this coverage.
  • Extended health insurance benefits: Employees covered under the federal provisions of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) are allowed to extend their health insurance benefits after their employment ends. While the federal COBRA applies to employers with 20 or more employees, many U.S. states have enacted their own adaptations of this law, commonly referred to as “mini-COBRAs”. The mini-COBRA of North Dakota permits employees to maintain their health coverage for up to 39 weeks and each certificate of coverage must include a notice of the right to continue coverage.

What are the Provided Hourly Employee Protections Under North Dakota State Law?

At both federal and state levels, a series of laws have been established to protect employees from various workplace injustices, encompassing health and safety, discrimination, reporting unlawful practices, and more. Below are some of the primary laws that will legally safeguard your rights and well-being during the course of your employment.

  • Child labor protection laws: The laws of North Dakota protect minors in various aspects of employment by restricting the types of occupations that they are allowed to work in and limiting their daily working hours. Furthermore, the minimum age for employment in the state is set at 14 years of age. Minors aged 14 or 15 are only permitted to work in occupations relating to farm labor, domestic service, or in the employment and direct supervision of their parent or guardian unless the minor is excluded from mandatory school attendance or possesses a statutorily defined employment certificate signed by the parent or guardian of the minor.
  • Whistleblower protection laws: In North Dakota, it is forbidden by law for an employer to discharge or discriminate against an employee for any of the following actions: because the employee has filed a report in good faith; because the employee took part in an investigation or proceeding in good faith; because the employee rejected to participate in an unlawful practice that is discriminatory in nature.
  • Human rights protection laws: According to the North Dakota Human Rights Act, employees are protected from being discriminated against by their employer based on their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, the existence of a mental or physical disability, status pertaining to marriage or public assistance, or participation in lawful activities outside of the employer’s premises during non-working hours that do not directly intervene with the employer’s vital business-related concerns.
  • Smoking protection laws: North Dakota’s employment laws prohibit employers from discharging, refusing to hire, or taking retaliatory actions against an employee due to the fact that they lawfully engage in smoking activities, in compliance with the applicable laws and regulations.

Termination of Employment in North Dakota

What are the Termination Laws for Hourly Employees in North Dakota?

Just like several other U.S. states, North Dakota also adheres to employment-at-will laws. This means that both the employer and the employee are at liberty to terminate the employment contract at any time without having to reveal their particular reasons for doing so. While these laws generally take effect, there are several exceptions to the application of this rule which include:

  • Employment contract: When a written contract or employment agreement is in place, the employee is no longer an at-will worker and the employer must comply with the terms of the contract. These agreements typically specify the employment duration and the circumstances under which an employee may be terminated. To avoid potential breach of contract lawsuits, employers must ensure that they have a just cause for the termination of employees. Furthermore, North Dakota also recognizes employee handbooks as binding contracts, which employers must follow.
  • Public policy: In North Dakota, employees cannot be fired if the grounds for termination clearly contravene public policy rules. For instance, state laws permit employees to file a claim for workers’ compensation. Therefore, if an employer terminates an employee for filing a claim that they are legally entitled to, it would be in contravention of that public policy.
  • Retaliation: Federal and state employment laws prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who assert their legal rights. This includes participating in an investigation against the company testifying in court, refusing to engage in illegal activities at the employer’s request, and participating in protected activities such as smoking, labor organization, or filing claims for workers’ compensation and wage discrimination.
  • Discrimination: Federal law prohibits employers from terminating employees based on protected classes, including color, race, national origin, sex, religion, pregnancy, disability, and age. However, this federal law applies only to employers with a certain number of employees. In North Dakota, labor laws prohibit discrimination against employees of a protected class, even if the employer has only one employee.

Furthermore, employers in North Dakota are required to issue employees their final paychecks by the next regularly scheduled payday. If an employee is not paid by the scheduled payday, an employer can be charged wages for each day they are in default for up to 30 days.

Should Severance Pay Be Provided to Hourly Employees in North Dakota?

Severance pay refers to the financial compensation offered by an employer to a departing employee, with the amount generally based on the employee’s tenure. Its purpose is to offer financial support to individuals who are in between jobs as they actively seek new job opportunities.

Interestingly, there are no federal or state laws that require employers to offer severance pay to employees in North Dakota. Instead, it is a matter of agreement between an employer and an employee. This means that your employer is only obligated to provide severance pay if the stipulations of the employment contract or collective bargaining agreement require them to do so. In such situations, the employer must be sure to honor the terms of the agreement to avoid facing any legal consequences.

Final Thoughts

In summary, it’s evident why having a firm grasp of the fundamental elements of hourly employment is so critical. Being well-versed in termination rules, wage disbursements, leave policies, employment entitlements, and protective measures not only equips you to protect your interests in case of workplace infringements but also keeps you at an advantage. 

Keeping abreast with the ever-evolving landscape of employment laws and regulations is equally imperative, as this information forms the cornerstone for making well-thought-out decisions throughout the course of your career. 

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.