Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a Federal Labor Law that establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, equal pay, record keeping, and child labor standards for employees. The law establishes the tests for determining whether an employee is subject to or exempt from minimum wage and overtime pay requirements.

University employees carry either an "exempt" or "non-exempt" status when it comes to compensation, overtime, and other minimum wage and salary requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The information below outlines the FLSA, the distinction between "exempt" and "non-exempt" statuses, and more. 


Who is Covered Under the FLSA?

The minimum wage and overtime requirements of the FLSA apply to most employees in the United States. However, there are exemptions from the FLSA's requirements that are applicable to many employees working in higher education.

By law, the University of Pittsburgh is required to comply with the FLSA. 


Non-Exempt vs. Exempt

Non-Exempt (Biweekly Pay) Exempt (Monthly Pay)

This means an employee is not exempt from the FLSA's minimum wage and overtime requirements. In other words, a "non-exempt" employee is eligible for overtime.

Overtime: Non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay for all time actually worked over 40 hours in a work week at a rate of one and one-half times their regular rate of pay. Overtime must be paid through Payroll in the pay period in which it is earned or in the next pay period. Time off MAY NOT be granted in place of payment for overtime hours (hours beyond 40) worked.

Time Record: Non-exempt employees must record work time to ensure accurate records and payment of all wages due as required by the FLSA. Learn how to accurately record work time in Pitt Worx.


This means an employee is "exempt" from the FLSA's minimum wage and overtime requirements. 

Exempt employees in higher education include:

  • Bona fide teachers, such as most faculty members
  • Licensed doctors (including dentists) who are actually engaged in the practice of medicine
  • Individuals who perform certain "exempt" duties and are paid on a salary basis in an amount above the FLSA's minimum salary threshold

The exemption status of a University staff position is determined by the University’s Compensation Department and is done so in accordance with criteria established by the FLSA. ​


An exempt employee must also meet the minimum salary threshold under the FLSA, even if part-time. All exempt employees at the University must be paid the minimum annual salary (not the full-time equivalent) of $35,568. 


Minimum Wage

Effective July 24, 2009, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) established the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The FLSA requires employees to be paid at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime pay for all hours worked over 40 hours in a work week. 


Pay Type

Non-Exempt (Biweekly Pay) Exempt (Monthly Pay)
  • Subject to the minimum wage and overtime provisions established by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • Paid hourly for work performed.
  • Pay is based on the number of hours worked per week. The employee must account for all time worked including the use of sick, vacation, and other leave time on an hourly basis.
  • Not subject to (or exempt from) the minimum wage and overtime provisions established by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • Paid on a salaried basis.
  • Pay is not based on the amount of time spent at work but rather on "getting the job done." 


Work Expectations

Non-Exempt (Biweekly Pay) Exempt (Monthly Pay)
  • Expected to work the standard University work week (37.5 hours per week).
  • Are only paid for hours worked and use of paid approved time off, which may be less than 37.5 hours in a week.
  • May not work beyond 37.5 hours without prior supervisor approval
  • Expected to work the standard University work week (37.5 hours per week).
  • Not subject to reduction of pay based on the quality or quantity of work.
  • May be required to work additional hours beyond 37.5 per week.


Work Week, Hours of Work, and Business Hours

The University’s workday is 7.5 hours, which does not include a lunch period. Employees work five (5) workdays in each standard workweek for a total of 37.5 hours per week, except where otherwise specifically stated in a contract. The standard workweek is a consecutive seven (7) day period beginning at 12:01 a.m. Sunday and ending at midnight the following Saturday. 

Normal University business hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Employees will be provided one hour for lunch, which is unpaid. Departmental administrators may vary these schedules to accommodate business needs. In all cases, the standard workweek for full-time employees consists of 37.5 hours per week. Part-time employee hours may differ based on their assigned standard workweek. Hours worked in one standard workweek are not to be carried into the next standard workweek for purposes of making up time, reducing overtime, or conserving paid time off or sick leave. The FLSA does not require employees to have breaks. However, if departments allow for breaks in excess of 20 minutes, those breaks are not required to be compensated. The University of Pittsburgh supports the health of its employees and their children. As such, the University recognizes and follows federal and state regulations which state that employers are required to provide a reasonable amount of break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth as frequently as needed by the nursing mother. The University recognizes that the frequency of breaks needed to express milk, as well as the duration of each break, will likely vary.  

Non-exempt employees should not work any hours outside of their regularly scheduled workday unless their supervisor has authorized the unscheduled work in advance. Employees should not start work early, finish work late, work during a meal break, or perform any other extra or overtime work unless authorized to do so and that time is recorded to be used for payment purposes. Employees are prohibited from performing any “off-the-clock” work. Any employee who fails to report or inaccurately reports any hours worked will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including discharge. 


Travel Time

When an employee in a non-exempt position is traveling for work-related purposes, managers should meet with them to review and approve the travel itinerary (including, but not limited to, meeting schedules, route, and Department of Labor regulations).  All compensable hours worked during the travel period must be recorded and reported to ensure an accurate calculation for payroll purposes. For additional guidance, please see the Compensation for Travel Time Guide for Overtime-Eligible Employees


Timekeeping/Recording Hours

Employees in non-exempt jobs are required to complete and submit time records on a weekly basis reflecting all hours worked, paid time off, sick leave, holidays, recess days, and other time off such as bereavement, jury duty, professional development time, and volunteer time.  

The timecard is to be submitted to the immediate supervisor who will verify the accuracy of the time recorded and approve the timecard. It is the responsibility of the employee to complete their own time record and submit it to the immediate supervisor for approval. 

All employees working in exempt jobs do not need to report hours worked or submit a timecard. However, during weeks when exception time off is taken, the exception time off must be recorded, submitted, and approved by the immediate supervisor. The supervisor and employee must review the timecard to certify that the exception time off is recorded accurately. 

  • Exception time off includes bereavement, jury duty, military paid leave, parental leave, vacation, personal time, sick time, FMLA vacation, FMLA personal time, FMLA sick time, approved absence, professional development time, and volunteer time.   
  • University holidays and recess time are not considered exception time off and do not need to be reported. 

The timecard is used by Payroll to calculate the paycheck for the pay period based on the number of hours stated on the time record for each workweek. Any employee or supervisor who falsifies any time record, application for leave, and the like, is subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.  

It is a violation of University policy for any employee, including management, to falsify a time record. It is also a serious violation of University policy for any employee or manager to instruct another employee to incorrectly or falsely report hours worked or alter another employee’s time record to under- or over-report hours worked.  
Employees are prohibited from committing the following actions: (1) incorrectly or falsely under- or over-reporting hours worked, (2) altering another employee’s time record(s) to inaccurately or falsely report that employee’s hours worked, or (3) concealing any falsification of time records. If any employee is instructed or encouraged to violate this policy, they should report it immediately to Concern Connection


Reduction in Pay for Hours Not Worked

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employee pay can be reduced to the extent allowed by law in the following circumstances.
Employees in a non-exempt job are paid for all hours worked. An employee in a non-exempt job may have their pay reduced for the following reasons:  

  • Absences in excess of accrued leave or sick time, in which the leave or sick time is exhausted  
  • Tardiness 
  • Early departure  
  • Disciplinary suspension 
  • Absences without sufficient notification or justification 

Staff members in positions classified as exempt in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) receive a monthly salary that does not vary based on the amount or quality of work performed and does not vary between pay periods.  
The FLSA identifies several situations where it is appropriate to deduct an exempt staff employee’s pay. These situations are:  

  • Absences for one or more full days for personal reasons other than sickness or disability  
  • Absences for one or more full days due to sickness or disability if deductions are made under a bona fide plan, policy, or practice of providing wage-replacement benefits for these types of absences  
  • Unpaid disciplinary leaves or suspensions of one or more full days imposed in good faith for violations of serious workplace conduct rules  
  • Full or partial day absences for a Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) qualifying absence  
  • Partial week worked during the first or last week of the staff member’s employment
  • Penalties imposed in good faith for violating safety rules of “major significance” 
  • Deductions for full week if work is not available, provided that advanced notice is given to the employee 

If you believe that an error in your pay has been made through a deduction based on a situation that is not included in this list, you must notify your supervisor or Human Resources Shared Services immediately. If you notify your supervisor, your supervisor must promptly elevate the issue to Human Resources Shared Services. The appropriate staff will investigate all claims regarding possible improper deductions. Corrective action will be taken as soon as possible to resolve any identified improper deductions, including reimbursement of the improper deduction. 


Compensatory Time

Compensation for the hours worked between 37.5 and 40 hours in a standard work week.

Non-Exempt (Biweekly Pay) Exempt (Monthly Pay)
  • Eligible for Compensatory Time if the total number of hours worked:
    • Exceeds 37.5 hours per week AND is less than or equal to 40 hours per week
  • Maximum accumulation of 2.5 hours per week of compensatory time
  • Sick and bereavement time is not included in the total number of hours worked
  • Compensatory Time may be:
    • Provided as time off OR paid out at the employee’s straight time rate
  • Compensatory Time must be paid out or given during:
    • Month it is earned OR following month 
  • Not eligible for Compensatory Time


Overtime Pay

A rate of pay equal to one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay.

Non-Exempt (Biweekly Pay) Exempt (Monthly Pay)
  • Non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay if:
    • Total number of hours worked exceeds 40 hours per work week OR work was performed on a recognized University Holiday
  • Sick, bereavement, jury duty, and compensatory hours/days off do not count towards calculating overtime
  • Vacation, personal days, holidays, and recess time do count towards calculating overtime for the week
  • Not eligible for overtime pay for work performed in excess of 40 hours per week

Supervisors and managers are expected to monitor the use and impact of overtime on their department to ensure employees are consistently completing work in a reasonable amount of time in addition to ensuring that employees have been authorized to work overtime.  
Employees in non-exempt, overtime-eligible jobs must obtain approval from their direct supervisor for overtime before it is actually worked. Employees who work in non-exempt jobs must be compensated for all overtime hours worked regardless of whether such time was requested in advance. Employees who work overtime without supervisor authorization or fail to accurately report all hours of work are subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment. 


More Information about the FLSA

The University electronically posts required workplace notices, including "Employee Rights Under the Fair Labor Standards Act." If you require additional information on FLSA, contact the HR Compensation team by submitting an online inquiry.