Happy 80th Birthday, Fair Labor Standards Act!

Eighty years ago on June 25, an important bill was signed into law and changed the American workplace and the lives of working men and women (and children) in this country forever. 

The bill may not be as well-known as one that created Social Security, but President Franklin D. Roosevelt characterized the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), as “the most far-reaching, far-sighted program for the benefit of workers ever adopted in this or any other country."  

That's because FLSA seeks to “put a ceiling over hours and a floor under wages" by: 

  • creating the right to a minimum wage 
  • establishing overtime pay for those working more than 40 hours a week 
  • prohibiting most child labor  

The Wage and Hour Division of the Labor Department enforces the FLSA for workers in the private sector, state and local government employment, and federal employees of the Library of Congress, U.S. Postal Service, Postal Rate Commission, and the Tennessee Valley Authority.  

For other federal employees, the FLSA is enforced by the Office of Personnel Management.  

Labor unions played a major role in pushing for these changes and protections. Many people take for granted overtime pay, minimum wages, and a ban on child labor. But it's because of good labor laws like FLSA that protect us against unregulated capitalism. So, happy birthday FLSA! 


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