Back Arkansas Labor and Employment Laws

Arkansas Labor and Employment Laws

Labor and employment laws play an important part of a civilized society. uring his introduction of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935, Senator Robert Wagner once said, “Democracy cannot work unless it is honored in the factory as well as the polling booth; men cannot truly be free in body and spirit unless their freedom extends into places where they earn their daily bread.” 

This declaration captures the essence of the various labor laws enacted during the past century. In a democracy, the principles of equality and the rule of law must be upheld, even in private contracts.

Therefore, whether you are an ordinary employee working for a Arkansas-based employer who wants to know what rights you are entitled to as an employee, or an HR professional or a legal counsel tasked to ensure that the Arkansas-based employer you are working for is compliant with labor laws to prevent exposing said employers to potential liabilities, learning about labor laws is essential. This article aims to provide you with an overview of labor laws in general, as well as laws enacted by the state of Delaware in particular. This article also provides the importance and purpose of these laws, and some frequently asked questions (FAQs).

What are the Labor Laws in Arkansas?

Arkansas employment law is a collection of state and federal labor laws. These laws include provisions for wage payment, minimum wage, child labor, and prevailing wages for state-funded construction projects.

Why are Labor Laws Important?

Boone (2015) noted that throughout the early 1900s, working conditions for the average American worker were fairly grim. Child labor was widespread, discrimination in the workplace was normalized, and working conditions were hazardous due to lack of safety regulations. Additionally, unions did not have sufficient protections from the federal government, which made it difficult for workers’ unions to bargain for improved working conditions. Thanks to social and legal shifts throughout the years, labor laws have created better conditions and rights for the American worker. 

Nonetheless, most employers today still exercise tremendous bargaining power over employees, especially at this time when employees’ collective power has dwindled over the years, with union density sitting at around 6.2% percent in the private sector.

Because of this unequal bargaining power, employers are known to have monopsony power. This means employers operate as wage setters rather than wage takers in the employment bargain. As a result, employers will tend to hire fewer workers (thereby leading to either under-employment or worse, unemployment) and those workers suffer lower pay and benefits as well as worse working conditions. Fewer workers also means that employers produce less output and can charge higher prices that harm consumers. Finally,  monopsony power also reduces economic productivity because employers are not competing over wages to lure workers into jobs that are the best match for their productivity and skills.

That is where labor laws come in. Over the course of the 20th century, federal and state laws have been enacted to address this problem of inequality of bargaining power. The aim of these federal laws are to provide social and economic rights for workers, with state laws going beyond such minimum rights by providing expanded rights and protections.

What is the Purpose of the Labor Law

Therefore, the primary purpose of labor law is to minimize, if not eliminate, the negative effects arising from the unequal power wielded by employers, and the inequality of bargaining power between employers and employees. Labor laws impose certain legal requirements on employers which cannot be the subject to negotiation or bargaining with employees. This means that since these requirements are imposed by law, employers have no choice but to comply or face possible civil and/or criminal sanctions from the government.

What is an example of Labor Law in Arkansas?

One type of labor law that aims to temper the monopsony power of employers are those that prescribe minimum standards for benefits. An example of this is the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which requires employers to pay at least the federal minimum wage and overtime pay of 1.5x the regular rate of pay. FLSA also deals with how work hours are computed.

Another type of labor law that addresses monopsony power are those that impose minimum safety and health conditions in the workplace. An example of this is the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), which imposes on employers the general duty to provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized, serious hazards.

Labor law also governs workers’ compensation laws, which requires employers to pay compensation and medical benefits to employees who suffer work-related injuries or death. An example of this type of law is the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA), which pays compensation for the disability or death of a federal employee resulting from personal injury sustained while in the performance of duty.

There are also labor laws that aim to regulate the benefits that employees are offered as a way to ensure that the employee’s interests are being considered., There are even laws that impose upon employers the obligation to provide additional benefits to employees that go beyond their usual salary. Examples of these types of laws are the federal Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which regulates employers who offer pension or welfare benefit plans for employees, and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which requires employers to give unpaid but job-protected leaves to employees who need to attend to the birth or adoption of a child, or for the serious illness of the employee or their family member.

What are Rights of Employees in Arkansas?

The following are some of the rights of employees in Arkansas, as provided under Arkansas employment law and federal law:

  • Right to minimum wage
  • Right to a safe workplace
  • Right to health coverage
  • Right to social security
  • Right to unemployment benefits
  • Right to protection against discrimination
  • Right to family leave

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the law on overtime in Arkansas?

In general, Arkansas employment law requires employers with four or more employees to compensate non-exempt workers with 1.5x their regular rate for hours worked beyond 40 hours each work week. Although some states will also count overtime hours on a daily basis (i.e., work rendered beyond 8 hours in a day) as well as work rendered during scheduled rest days or holidays, this is not the case in Arkansas. In determining the total number of hours actually worked to compute for overtime, paid holidays or sick days do not count. 

2. What is the law on minimum wage in Arkansas?

As of January 1, 2021, the minimum wage in Arkansas is $11 per hour, which is higher than the federal rate of $7.25 per hour. This only applies to employers with four or more employees. Those not covered will still have to apply minimum wage rates for employees covered by the FLSA. 

For tipped employees, the minimum wage is $2.63 per hour, as long as the employee’s tip is sufficient to cover the difference between this rate and the mandated minimum wage. Otherwise, the employer will have to add to their pay to raise their compensation up to the minimum wage level. To ensure compliance with minimum wage laws and to avoid disputes or litigation, employers must keep accurate and up-to-date records of all the tips they receive.

3. Can an employer be sued for firing an employee in Arkansas?

As a general rule, Arkansas employment law follows the “employment at will” doctrine. This means that both employers and employees are free to terminate employment as they wish, at any time, without having to provide prior notice or a reason for termination. However, an employee may still sue for wrongful or arbitrary termination if the termination was due to discrimination based on age, religion, sex, race, national origin, or disability. An employee may also not be fired due to pregnancy or abortion. 

4. What is the minimum age for employment of minors under Arkansas labor laws?

The minimum age for employment of minors under Arkansas labor laws is 14 years old. While school is in session, minors 14 to 15 years old can only work between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. They should also not be required to work more than 8 hours per day, 6 days per week, or more than 48 hours per week

5. What are the laws on the payment of wages in Arkansas?

Employers in Arkansas are generally required to pay workers two times per month. However, if an employer has an annual gross income of $500,000 or more, they may pay managers and executives once per month if they are exempt employees who earn at least $25,000 as their annual gross salary.

Wages may be paid by cash, check, or a direct deposit to the employee’s bank account. In the event that a check payment fails due to insufficient funds, the employee is entitled to demand payment in cash for future wages.

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