Complying With State Labor Laws

Posted by HR Division of Propel HR on 7/1/21 3:30 PM
HR Division of Propel HR
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Posted on: July 1, 2021

In addition to federal laws, employers must also comply with all state laws.  While not all state labor laws apply to every business, employers should be familiar with the laws that do. 

Federal versus State. Which Laws Should Your Business Follow?  In general, state labor laws don't supersede federal laws. However, in certain situations, if a state law offers more rights and protection than a federal law, employers are entitled to the protections that are the most beneficial to them. 

How do State Labor Laws Differ from Federal Labor Laws?  In many cases, state laws are stricter and may provide a greater level of protection over federal employment laws. 

Here are some of the most common areas where state and federal laws may differ.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), there are a few areas where state law can supersede federal law. The Department of Labor provides more details on the differences between federal laws and individual state laws under FLSA at

Minimum Wage and Overtime Rules

bread bakery food factory production with fresh productsThe area of minimum wage is one example of how state employment laws can differ from federal laws. While FLSA provides basic wage and hour protection for most workers, individual states also have the authority to establish separate standards, including higher minimum wage and more protective overtime rules for workers.

If the state law sets the minimum wage below the federal minimum wage, the federal law then supersedes the state law. However, if the state law sets the minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage, the state law supersedes the federal law.   The Department of Labor's interactive map provides the latest information on minimum wage rates and laws in each state. 


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Child Labor Laws

Every state has laws specific to child labor issues. When the standards of federal and state laws are different, the rules that provide the most protection to young workers apply. 

Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA)

SeatAtTheTable_1020x680_030320The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) oversees workplace safety and health standards at the federal level. However, many states also have similar laws which enforce stricter standards than required by OSHA.

Drug Testing

Federal and state labor laws can differ on drug testing for both applicants and employees. To protect your business, have a drug-testing policy in place that details the specifics of testing in the states where you have employees. For example, in some states, blood testing is illegal. 

Right to Work Law

There is no federal Right to Work law, but many states include laws preventing employees from having to pay union dues in order to work.

Read More:  Your Checklist of the Most Important HR-related Tasks to Complete in Q3.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) 

AdobeStock_166997997The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible employees unpaid, job-protected time off from work, along with benefits, for qualifying events.  In some states, and under certain circumstances, additional time-off may be allowed.

The Department of Labor (DOL) provides additional information and a comparison of federal and state labor laws under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) at


Workers’ Compensation Laws

Workers’ Compensation laws were designed to eliminate the need for litigation and ensure injured employees are financially protected from lost wages and medical bills. Workers’ Compensation requirements vary by state, by industry, as well as by the size and of your business and payroll. 

Workplace Labor Posters and Notices 

Mandatory labor laws for posting labor posters differ by state, such as EEOC notices about employment rights, FLSA minimum wage posters, and OSHA notices about workplace safety.  

Workplace Training

AdobeStock_331412577-4Employment-related training responsibilities can be a challenge for employers with workers in multiple states. For example, in some states, mandatory training on EEOC laws and sexual harassment may be required, as well as required training related to specific industries and occupations.

Additional State-Specific Labor Laws

Depending on the issue, there may be additional areas where state and federal laws differ, such as requirements for paid rest and meal periods and payday requirements. Check with the Department of Labor for more information on individual state labor laws.

Keep Your Business In Compliance 

As changing labor laws become more complex, and the burden of HR compliance continues to grow, outsourcing to a certified PEO, like Propel HR, can help reduce risks and prevent costly compliance violations. This includes complying with the labor laws and regulations governed by the state where all of your employees are working, not just where your business is based. 

Please Note:  This information is for general reference purposes only. Because laws, regulations, and filing deadlines are constantly changing, check with the appropriate organizations or government agencies for the latest information and consult your employment attorney and/or benefits advisor regarding your responsibilities to ensure you are compliant with all of the laws that apply to your business. In addition, your company may be exempt from certain requirements and/or be subject to different requirements under the laws of your state.

PEO Insider cover Oct 2020Propel HR President Lee Yarborough was recently elected Chair of the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO) Board of Directors.   She spoke with PEO Insider magazine to share where she thinks the industry is headed and how NAPEO can continue to grow. Download a pdf version of the full interview:  A Passion To Serve 

About Propel HR. Propel HR is an IRS-certified PEO that has been a leading provider of human resources and payroll solutions for 25 years. Propel partners with small to midsized businesses to manage payroll, employee benefits, compliance and risks, and other HR functions in a way that maximizes efficiency and reduces costs.


Topics: Featured, Human Resources, PEO, Small Business, FLSA, Regulations, Compliance, HR, Workers' Comp, Outsourced HR Services

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HR Division of Propel HR

The HR Division is made up of a team of professionals with a vast level of experience and HR expertise, assisting organizations of all sizes and within a wide variety of industries. They readily partner with clients to address strategic and compliance challenges surrounding the employment life-cycle and the ever-changing laws that regulate it. Inquire below about how they can help you!