Certain minimum wage exceptions apply under specific circumstances to different categories of workers, such as: full-time students, workers with disabilities, youth under age 20, tipped employees, and student-learners. Here’s a guide describing different categories of employees, and how minimum wage affects them.
These employees work a specific amount of hours specified by their employer. Generally, this is at least 36 hours per week. These employees can either be salaried – paid by a fixed amount per pay period– or hourly. They are further broken down to exempt and non-exempt. Exempt employees cannot make overtime and do not track their time. They are salaried. Non-exempt employees can be salaried or hourly, and must be paid overtime if they reach over 40 hours of work in a week. All full-time employees must be paid the federal or state minimum wage – whichever is higher, but most are salaried and receive a fixed paycheck.
Part-time employees are similar to full-time employees, but they do not work more than 36 hours per week. They receive minimum wage, unless they’ve agreed on an hourly rate about the minimum wage with their employer.
Workers with Disabilities:
Employees with a recognized disability are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but can be paid less than the full federal minimum wage due to sub-minimum wage certificates. Employers must obtain this certification from the Wage and Hour Division department of the Department of Labor (DOL) before paying workers with disabilities. These are commensurate wages – based on an individual employee’s productivity in relation to the productivity of experienced workers performing the same work who do not have a disability. The rate is unique to an employer, but is reviewed and reevaluated every six months.
A tipped employee – waiters, valet clerks – work jobs where they regularly make more than $30 per month in tips. These employees are subject to a special type of minimum wage. Their employers may pay them not less than $2.13 an hour in wages if that amount plus their tips equal at least the federal minimum wage ($7.25). If it doesn’t not equal that amount, their employer must pay the difference.
Full-time students who are also working can be paid less than the federal minimum wage, as well. But their employer must obtain a certificate from the DOL which ensures the student is not paid less than 85% of the federal minimum wage. Full-time students who work at employers with this certificate cannot work more than 8 hours a day, and no more than 20 hours while school is in session. If they remain employed after graduation, the student must be paid $7.25 per hour.
Student learners are high school students at least 16 or older, enrolled in vocational education. Like employers who employ full-time students and workers with disabilities, a special certificate from the DOL can allow them to be paid less than the minimum wage. However, employers cannot pay them less than 75% of the federal minimum wage.
Young Workers (Youth under 20):
Anyone under the age of 20 who is employed and doesn’t fit the requirements of a student learner or full-time student must be paid a wage of $4.25 in their first 90 consecutive days. After 90 days or when he or she turns 20 (whichever occurs first), that worker must be paid $7.25 per hour.
Farm workers are just what they sound like – and have experienced unfair labor laws in the past. The Fair Labor Standards Act, passed in 1938, excluded farm workers. It wasn’t until 1966 an amendment to the act included them. Agricultural workers paid on a piecework basis rather than an hourly one are entitled to receive the federal minimum wage of $7.25. Farm workers on smaller farms, those with seven or fewer employees per working quarter, are not protected by minimum wage laws.
Another category of employee who can be paid less than the federal minimum wage are computer workers. Like student workers, an exemption or certificate can be acquired by employers to do so. These include employees such as computer system analysts, programmers, and engineers.
Which type of employee do you have at your company? Let us know on PayrollTalk!