When Is an Employer Not Required to Pay Minimum Wage?

In a previous post, we discussed the minimum basic compensation that most employers are legally required to pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In today’s post, we discuss common exceptions to the rule—job categories where requisite compensation is not as cut and dried.

Exceptions to the Federal Minimum Wage Rule

For most jobs, employers must pay a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Under certain circumstances, however, they can pay less:

  • If you work for tips: If you work as a waiter, bartender or other job where you earn tips, then your employer only has to pay you $2.13 per hour, assuming you earn at least $5.12 per hour in tips—which totals the minimum wage of $7.25. If your tips are lower than this amount, your employer must make up the difference.
  • If you’re a contractor: If you work for a company as an independent contractor, minimum wage isn’t a guarantee.
  • If you’re young: Unfortunately, young people get the short end of the stick when it comes to compensation. If you’re under 20 years old, your employer is allowed to pay you just $4.25 per hour for your first 90 days of employment.
  • If you’re a student: You may be juggling a full-time college workload with a teaching assistant job in order to pay off your student loans. Unfortunately, under the law, full-time students working certain types of jobs can be paid as little as $6.16 per hour.
  • If you work on a farm: If you gather produce and get paid “by the piece,” your employer may not have to pay you the minimum wage. The rules for this condition are complicated, so it’s worth talking to an employment attorney if you believe you’re being cheated.

If you have any concerns about fair compensation or treatment in your workplace, it’s always a good idea to consult with an employment lawyer about your case. You may be entitled to compensation.