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What wage protections do Michigan workers have?

Michigan workers may file grievances when they feel cheated out of rightful hourly pay, fringe benefits and overtime or believe they've been mistreated by employers for complaining about employment violations. An employment lawyer can help direct complaints to the right agencies.

Rules applicable to hourly pay and overtime rates are outlined in both state and federal laws. Under the federal Fair labor Standards Act, employers nationwide must pay nonexempt employees a minimum hourly rate of at least $7.25 – the state rate is higher. Michigan's minimum wage was raised to $8.15 in September 2014, up from $7.40, with scheduled increases culminating in a $9.25 rate by 2018.

Under FLSA and the Michigan Workforce Opportunity Wage Act, overtime -- regular hourly pay plus 50 percent -- is paid to employees who work over 40 hours in a single week. These regulations do not guarantee every worker in every job will receive a minimum hourly wage or overtime pay. Employment attorneys help workers understand the numerous definitions and exceptions attached to these regulations.

There is a considerable amount of detail in the Fair Labor Standards Act about what the terms "work" and "compensable time" mean. For instance, an employee who is on duty while waiting for work must be paid, but payment is not required for off-duty workers waiting to get assignments. In other words, an employee is paid during inactive periods that occur during a workday but not for off-the-clock waiting periods.

An example would be an on-call worker. The time is compensable as long as the on-call period coincides with work hours. Employees on call from home get paid for actual hours worked, not for waiting periods while being on call.

The FLSA also outlines employee compensation rules for meal breaks, rest periods and travel time. An attorney can provide guidance when any of these issues are central to an employment claim.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, "Wage and Hour Division (WHD)," accessed May. 28, 2015

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