Virginia Labor Laws

March 19th 2024

This article covers:

What are Virginia Time Management Laws?

In the US, there are federal laws in place to manage the time spent by employees in the workplace, safeguarding their rights and guaranteeing fair pay for their efforts. These laws act as directives for employers, keeping them in check, and minimizing any forms of abuse or exploitation.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which dates back to 1938, is a critical federal law for time management, setting hourly wage rates and overtime pay, and requiring employers to keep an accurate record of their employees’ working hours. Overtime is pegged at 1.5 times the regular hourly rate for workers who exceed 40 hours a week. However, certain job categories, including executives, professionals, and administrative employees, are exempt from overtime pay depending on their job description and salary.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is another essential federal law that governs time management in the workplace, entitling eligible employees to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for specific family and medical reasons, such as the birth or adoption of a child or caring for a family member with a serious health condition. This act also requires employers to maintain employees’ health benefits during their leave and restore them to their previous or equivalent positions upon their return to work.

Employers who contravene federal time management laws face severe legal ramifications, including fines, back pay, and damages. If workers feel that their employer has violated federal time management laws, they can file complaints with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division for investigation and legal action.

Overall, federal time management laws are instrumental in ensuring that workers are compensated fairly for their time and effort in the workplace, protecting them from abuse and exploitation by employers. The Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act are vital federal laws that govern time management and worker compensation, ensuring fair labor practices across various sectors, including non-profit, public, and private organizations.

Virginia Minimum Wage $12.00
Virginia Overtime Laws 1.5 times the minimum wage for any time worked over 40 hours/week
($18.00 for minimum wage workers)
Virginia Break Laws Meal break for minors under 16 — 30 min per 5 hours

What are the Hiring, Working & Termination Laws in Virginia?

When hiring, it is both unethical and illegal to discriminate in the workplace, according to federal law. Virginia has also identified specific bases for workplace discrimination under the Virginia Human Rights Act, in addition to those outlined on a federal level. The complete list includes:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Pregnancy
  • Genetic information (including family medical history)
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Child or spousal withholding
  • Military or veteran status
  • Citizenship or immigration status
  • Expunged criminal records
  • Non-conviction arrest records
  • Status as a smoker or non-smoker
  • Lactation

Like other states in the US, Virginia follows the “employment-at-will” policy. This means that employers are allowed to terminate an employee’s work contract at any moment, without having to provide a reason. Simultaneously, employees are free to resign without any legal consequences. However, employers cannot terminate employees based on discriminatory practices or in retaliation for whistleblowing. It is mandatory for companies in Virginia to provide their employees with a final paycheck that includes any outstanding benefits and wages. The paycheck should be provided either before or on the scheduled payday, according to Virginia labor wage laws.  

What Are the Key Labor Laws in Virginia?

Now, we will discuss some key labor laws in Virginia that may not be related to the categories we have previously explored. Some of these regulations include:

  • Osha Law – As per the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), all employees must have a safe and healthy working environment. Employers are required to inspect workspace for flaws, improve conditions, and provide proper training, education, and assistance. The goal of OSHA is to reduce workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. Optimal working conditions, safety and health research, and safety demonstrations are mandatory. Virginia OSHA regulates workplace safety for all workers in Virginia and has compliance officers who enforce laws through scheduled and unscheduled inspections triggered by reports of imminent danger, fatalities, worker complaints, and referrals. Federal employers and employees may be excluded from OSHA regulations. Virginia has unique safety standards in place for General Industry, Construction, and Agriculture industries. The General Industry standards cover vehicle and equipment safety, electrical hazards, confined spaces, tree trimming, and high-voltage line safety. In the Construction industry, specific standards are set for medical services, sanitation, vehicle and equipment safety, and high voltage line safety. For Agriculture, field sanitation is the only additional standard in place. These regulations aim to provide a safe and healthy work environment for employees, particularly considering the risks associated with prolonged sun and chemical exposure in the agriculture industry.
  • Whistleblower Protection Laws – The set of laws aims to protect workers and their legal rights by preventing negative consequences from arising. One such instance is when an employee reports an illegal practice or safety hazard – often referred to as a whistleblower – and needs to ensure they can keep their job. Discrimination or unfair treatment won’t be tolerated, and employees can exercise their safety rights under OSHA without fear of negative repercussions. Additionally, workers who report a violation of the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act can expect to be protected.
  • COBRA Laws – COBRA is a federal law that permits employees to maintain their healthcare and benefits coverage after employment termination. Employers with over 20 employees are subject to this law, while states have implemented their own “mini-COBRA” regulations to cover businesses with fewer than 20 employees, so called mini-COBRA law, that extends healthcare coverage for up to 12 months after an employee’s termination for businesses with under 20 employees.
  • Background Check Laws – Employers are permitted to conduct background checks in Virginia, but are not required to do so for all positions. Any background checks that are conducted must adhere to the rules set forth by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. The act regulates the way in which information is collected, distributed, and verified by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. There are certain positions within the state of Virginia that do require background checks, including school personnel in private schools, nursing homes and assisted living personnel, and employees of child welfare agencies that have contact with children. Additionally, hospital personnel who have access to controlled substances and firearm sellers must undergo background checks. Law enforcement personnel, including jail officers, must also undergo background checks, as well as anyone who provides behavioral health or developmental services in personal homes. Various other positions, including those in shared living arrangements and corporate officers who conduct safety training courses, also require background checks.
  • Credit and Investigative Check Laws – In Virginia, there are no specific laws that either authorize or prohibit employers from conducting credit and investigative checks as part of their employment process. This means that employers have the discretion to request credit reports from both their prospective and current employees, as long as the information obtained is relevant to the job in question.
  • Arrest and Conviction Check Laws – Employers in Virginia are not explicitly forbidden from running background checks on job applicants based on their arrest or conviction records. However, there is a restriction on asking about expunged criminal records.
  • Drug and Alcohol Testing Laws – In Virginia, the law doesn’t have a specific stance on whether employers can test their applicants and employees for drugs. However, this means that they are allowed to administer a breathalyzer test without breaking any laws. Nonetheless, employers must obtain the explicit consent of their applicants or employees before subjecting them to a drug test. There is an exception to this rule, and that is for state contractors and subcontractors that generate over $10,000. These employers must ensure that their workplace is free from drugs when carrying out their contracts.
  • Social Media Laws – It is against the law for employers in Virginia to request their employees or job applicants to share personal social media account information. This includes usernames, passwords, or any other form of authentication. Employers are also not allowed to add employees to their personal social media contacts or take any retaliatory measures against employees who enforce their rights regarding social media privacy.
  • Hiring of Veterans Laws – There’s a law applicable to all Virginia veterans, along with the spouses of veterans having a service-connected total disability. This legislation permits employers to prioritize these individuals during the hiring process or for promotion-related decisions.
  • Recordkeeping Laws – It is mandatory for Virginia employers to maintain records of all their employees for a period of 3 years. Additionally, there are other recordkeeping laws that are applicable to specific situations, such as maintaining seniority and merit systems for 2 years, records of job-related injuries and illnesses under OSHA for 5 years, summary descriptions and annual reports of benefit plans for 6 years, and dangerous instances under OSHA (e.g. toxic substance exposure) for 30 years. These records must include information such as:
    • the employee’s name
    • Social Security number
    • occupation
    • date of birth
    • address (including ZIP code)
    • regular hourly rate of pay
    • basis on which wages are paid
    • daily record of beginning and ending work
    • total net and gross wages
    • date of each payment
    • records of leaves
    • notices
    • policies under the Family and Medical Leave Act

Virginia Payment Laws

Let’s begin by discussing the essential laws and regulations that pertain to minimum, tipped, and subminimum wages in Virginia.

What is the Minimum Payment in Virginia?

The minimum wage is the lowest hourly rate that employees can be paid for their work. Laws for wages are set by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) at the federal level, but individual states can set their own minimum wage rates. Virginia currently has a minimum wage of $12.00, which will gradually increase to $15.00 by January 2026. However, there are certain exceptions to this requirement such as for summer camp employees. It is important to ensure fair compensation for Virginia employees in all industries.

What is the Payment for Tipped Employees in Virginia?

Tips are a common form of recognition and appreciation provided by customers to certain professionals, especially those in the hospitality industry like servers and bartenders. In Virginia, employees who regularly receive gratuities are considered tipped employees, and employers can offer them a tipped position as long as the total of tips earned and employer contribution amounts to at least the regular minimum wage of $12.00. It’s worth noting that Virginia law does not regulate tip pooling, whereby all tipped employees share a portion of their tips with employees who don’t typically get tips, like cooks, dishwashers, and prep-cooks. This means that employers can require participation in tip pools, but employees can also enter into agreements about tip distribution amongst themselves.

What are the Exceptions for Minimum Payment in Virginia?

It’s worth noting that there are certain employment and personal circumstances that are not subject to Virginia’s minimum wage laws. Examples include roles such as:

  • White-collar executives
  • Outside salespeople earning commissions or flat rates
  • Farm workers
  • Volunteers for educational, charitable, religious, and nonprofit organizations
  • Caddies at golf courses
  • Operators of taxicabs
  • Minors who are employed by their parents or guardians
  • Those who are confined in penal/correctional facilities
  • Summer camp workers
  • Students enrolled in bona fide educational programs
  • Minors under 16 years old
  • Students in secondary/trade schools or other educational institutions (can work up to 20 hours per week)
  • Babysitters and au pairs (have specific conditions for minimum wage)
  • Temporary foreign workers

The legal term “subminimum wage” is often used when referring to the minimum wage for certain types of employees like student workers in Virginia. This allows employers to pay them a lower hourly wage than the minimum wage. In Virginia, only two categories of employees can be paid a lower rate than the state minimum. Those are student workers who work part-time and trainees under the age of 20, but only for the first 90 days of employment. Student workers must be paid 85% of the minimum wage, which is at least $10.20 per hour. Trainees under 20 must be paid at least $4.35 per hour for the first 90 days. All other non-exempt employees are entitled to at least the standard minimum wage.  

What is the Payment Due Date in Virginia?

In Virginia, it is required by law for employers to pay their employees on a regular basis, specifically every two weeks, which is considered a payroll period. However, there is an exception to this rule. For employees who earn at least 150% of the state-defined average weekly wage, if they agree in writing, they may receive monthly compensation instead. There are various ways for employers to pay their employees, including cash, checks, direct deposit systems, ATMs or other electronic transfer means, and payroll cards. Deductions from wages are only allowed if required by law (such as taxes) or if agreed upon in writing by the employee, and must be clearly defined on each paycheck.  

What are Virginia Overtime Laws?

The Fair Labor Standards Act has established regulations governing the definition of a working week, which consists of any seven consecutive 24-hour periods. Employees who work for the duration of this period up to 40 hours are entitled to compensated work at a minimum hourly rate as outlined in the Virginia constitution. Any hours worked beyond 40 during the period are recognized as overtime hours and thereby attract a higher hourly rate of payment. Non-exempt employees who work overtime hours are entitled to payment that is 1.5 times their regular rate. This means that minimum wage employees are presently entitled to $16.5 for overtime pay. However, certain occupations and conditions may override this requirement. We’ve put together a detailed guide to help you find out who is eligible for overtime compensation in Virginia, and who isn’t, so keep reading.  

What are Overtime Exceptions and Exemptions in Virginia?

Under federal law, there are four main categories of employees who are not protected by overtime exemption laws as they fall within the umbrella of white-collar occupations. In order to be exempt from overtime pay, white-collar workers must earn at least $684 per week. White-collar employees fall into four categories: administration, executives, professionals, and outside sales.

  • Administration includes non-manual employees who work with business operations, management policies, or administrative training.
  • Executives are business and general managers who oversee at least two employees.
  • Professionals have jobs that require advanced knowledge and extensive education.
  • Outside sales positions involve visiting potential and existing customers at their premises.

Apart from the exemptions provided by the federal government, Virginia state also has specific restrictions on overtime hours for certain occupations. Minimum wage and overtime exemptions are sometimes overlapping but there are some jobs that come under the overtime exemption category only.

Here is the list of occupations exempt from overtime in Virginia:

  • Farm workers
  • Volunteers working for educational, nonprofit, religious, or charitable organizations
  • Caddies at golf courses
  • Taxicab drivers
  • Minors employed by their guardians/parents
  • Individuals confined in correctional and penal facilities
  • Summer camp workers
  • Minors under 16 years of age regardless of their job type or employer
  • Student workers working for genuine educational programs, trade schools, or secondary institutions of education for a maximum of 20 hours a week
  • People enrolled in educational institutions provided that they are employed by the said institution
  • Babysitters working for a maximum of 10 hours a week
  • Au pairs participating in the Exchange Visitor Program of the US Department of State
  • Temporary foreign workers and salespeople
  • Vehicle parts people and mechanics primarily involved in selling or servicing automobiles, trucks, and farm implements provided they are employed by non-manufacturing establishments
  • Salespeople primarily involved in selling trailers, boats, and aircraft employed by non-manufacturing establishments.

Learn more in detail about Virginia Salaried Employees Laws and Virginia Overtime Laws.

What are Virginia Time Off/Break Laws?

In Virginia, employers are not legally obligated to provide breaks to employees (with the exception of minors aged 14-15 who are entitled to 30 minute meal breaks for every 5-hour shift). However, many employers do choose to offer rest and meal breaks to boost productivity. If an employer’s policy includes breaks under 20 minutes, it must be compensated, while longer breaks remain at the employer’s discretion. Breastfeeding mothers are entitled to a lactating break, which is discussed in detail in the next section.

What are Virginia Breastfeeding Laws?

Working mothers who are still nursing are entitled to take a break. This applies to those who have given birth recently. In Virginia, employers are required to give these employees adequate conditions. Employers are mandated to provide a private area for nursing that is not a bathroom stall. This area must be conveniently located near the working space. The break can be paid or unpaid, depending on company policy.

Learn more in detail about Virginia Break Laws.

What are Virginia Leave Laws?

Federal law outlines the types of leave that employers must provide without penalizing employees upon returning to work. These leaves fall into two categories, required and non-required, as defined by the US Department of Labor. However, the specific types of leave are determined by individual state regulations.

What is Virginia Required Leave?

There are situations where employees can take a leave of absence from work and not face any consequences when they return. Although employers are required to provide certain types of leave, they aren’t always obligated to pay employees during that time. However, some companies do offer paid leave according to their policies. In Virginia, there are five types of leave that employers are legally required to offer:

  • Family and Medical Leave – Employers in Virginia are required to give their employees a certain type of leave, which is regulated by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave during a one-year period for a variety of reasons, including caring for their own serious health condition or that of an immediate family member. A new or newly-adopted child and family members who are covered military members on active duty also qualify as reasons for leave. To be eligible, employees must have worked for their employer for at least a year and have completed at least 1,250 work hours in a 12-month period. In 2008, Congress further amended the FMLA to provide up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave for employees needing to care for a member of the Armed Forces with a serious health condition or injury, as long as the member is an employee’s spouse, parent, child, or next of kin.
  • Jury Duty Leave – In Virginia, if an employee is asked to serve on a jury, the law requires that they be allowed to miss work without using their sick days, vacation days, or any other type of leave. Employers are also not allowed to punish employees for doing their civic duty, but they are not required to pay them for the time away from work. Additionally, if an employee serves on a jury for four or more hours, their employer cannot require them to work a shift that starts after 5 p.m. on the same day or before 3 a.m. the following day.
  • Witness Leave – As per the law, when employees are called upon to testify in court, their employers must grant them leave, which may be compensated or not. This leave must not be compensated by sick leave, vacation leave, or any other type of leave that the employee may have. It is mandatory for the employee to inform their employer beforehand about their requirement for witness leave.
  • Crime Victim Leave – If an employee has been a victim of a crime, their employer must provide paid or unpaid leave for any participation, preparation or attendance in proceedings related to the crime. In Virginia, employers have the option to request a form from the law enforcement agency or obtain a copy of the notice of scheduled proceedings.
  • Military Leave – In the US, a federal law called the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act requires employers to grant employees leave of absence to serve in the US Armed Forces, National Guard or state militia. Upon their return, they must receive the same pay increases and benefits as if they had been at work the whole time. Additionally, Virginia requires employers to extend this policy to members of the Civil Air Patrol, with a maximum of 10 days per year for training and 30 days per year for responding to duty.

What is Virginia Non-Required Leave?

Employers in Virginia are not mandated to provide their employees with five types of leave. However, it is worth noting that the law does not forbid or limit employers from offering such leave. If employers choose to provide these leaves, they must specify the exact terms in the employment contract. These categories of leave are:

  • Sick Leave – In Virginia, employers are not obligated to provide either paid or unpaid sick days. However, if they do choose to implement a sick leave policy, they must adhere to the conditions they have set themselves.
  • Vacation Leave – In Virginia, employers aren’t obligated to provide either paid or unpaid vacation time to their employees. However, if they decide to offer this benefit, they have to follow all the terms and conditions laid down in their own vacation policy.
  • Holiday Leave – In Virginia, employers aren’t obligated to provide paid or unpaid holiday leave. However, if a company decides to offer such leave, they must specify the terms in the employment agreement.
  • Voting Leave – Employers in Virginia have no obligation to provide a certain type of leave to their workers. However, if they choose to offer leave specifically for voting purposes, they must clearly outline the terms and conditions of this time off in their employment contracts.
  • Bereavement Leave – Employers in Virginia aren’t obligated to provide their workers with bereavement leave. However, in case an employer has such a leave policy, they must clearly outline its terms in the employee contract.

Here is a table of official federal holidays observed in US:

Holiday Date
New Year’s Day 1 January
Martin Luther King Jr. Day Third Monday in January
Presidents’ Day Third Monday in February
Memorial Day Last Monday in May
Independence Day 4 July
Labor Day First Monday in September
Columbus Day Second Monday in October
Veterans Day 11 November
Thanksgiving Day Fourth Thursday in November
Day after Thanksgiving Fourth Friday in November
Christmas Day 25 December

Learn more in detail about Virginia Leave Laws.

What are Virginia Child Labor Laws?

Young people under the age of 18 are commonly referred to as “minors”. Child labor laws exist at both federal and Virginia state levels to prevent minors from being exploited and to prioritize their education. The intention is for employment to complement and enhance their academic and personal growth. These laws establish specific restrictions in several areas such as work hours, nightwork, and certain occupations. Although each age group has different requirements, all minors are prohibited from working in hazardous conditions under federal law. Virginia Child Labor Laws also outline guidelines for minors’ employment.

What are the Laws on Working Hours for Minors in Virginia?

Child labor laws in Virginia are in place to ensure that minors are not overworked or put in unsafe situations. There are two categories of minors, those who are under 16 and those who are 16 or 17. For those under 16, they must obtain a Work Permit and/or an Age Certification document. When school is not in session, they may work up to 8 hours per day, 40 hours per week, and no more than 6 days per week. When school is in session, the limit is 3 hours per school day and not more than 18 hours per school week. Minors under 16 are not allowed to work between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. when school is in session, but they can work until 9 p.m. when school is not in session. For those aged 16 and 17, Virginia doesn’t have a maximum limit on working hours, as long as they comply with compulsory school attendance laws. Nightwork restrictions only apply to minors under 16, and they cannot work between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. when school is in session. Otherwise, there are no restrictions on nightwork for those 16 or 17 years old.  

What are the Banned Jobs for Minors in Virginia?

The government has set regulations to protect minors from performing certain dangerous occupations. This means that minors are not permitted to work in occupations that are considered hazardous. For instance:

  • work that involves handling flammable or toxic substances
  • operating elevators or machiner
  • working in environments with high voltage electricity or exposure to radiation

In addition, specific states like Virginia have some additional restrictions regarding minors’ careers. They cannot work in occupations such as mining, motor vehicle jobs, fire-fighting, or excavation operations, etc.  

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.