The Fair Labor Standards Act: Minimum Wage in the 109th Congress Page: 4 of 31
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The Fair Labor Standards Act:
Minimum Wage in the 109th Congress
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938, as amended, is the primary
federal statute in the area of minimum wages and certain related labor standards
issues: e.g., overtime pay and child labor.1 Various bills related to the FLSA have
been introduced in the 109th Congress. Thus far, none of these measures has been
There are no expiration dates embedded within the FLSA, and thus, Congress
is under no obligation to act on amendments to the statute - though the declining
value of the minimum wage could provide an impetus for action. Were Congress to
take up minimum wage legislation, it could focus narrowly upon an increase in the
base rate: raising the floor above the current $5.15 per hour level. But, it could act
more expansively, dealing with a variety of minimum wage-related issues and,
perhaps, revising certain other aspects of the act such as its overtime pay or child
Some, during recent years, have urged that changes in wage/hour standards
should be coupled with tax and other benefits for business. While such linkage
seems to have become a popular issue for discussion, there is no structural reason
to proceed in that manner. Broadening the scope of the FLSA legislation (including
overtime pay, child labor, and assorted other economic issues within a single
comprehensive bill) could reduce the likelihood that any measure in this area would
ultimately be adopted; but conversely, depending upon the overall content of such a
package, it could expand the measure's appeal.2
The FLSA is an umbrella statute that deals with a series of labor standards
issues. These fall, roughly, into three categories: first, minimum wage (Section 6 of
the act); second, overtime pay (Section 7); and, third, child labor (Section 12).
Section 3 of the act defines the concepts used throughout the statute and, thereby,
For a quick summary of current proposals relating to the FLSA, see CRS Report RL32901,
Minimum Wage, Overtime Pay, and Child Labor: Inventory of Proposals in the 109th
Congress to Amend the Fair Labor Standards Act, by William G. Whittaker.
2 Proponents and opponents of an increase in the minimum wage have, variously, discussed
the potential impact of such a approach -pro and con. Some view additional provisions
(for example, "comp time" or an expanded "small business exemption") as an appropriate
strategy. Others regard such collateral measures as a poison pill intended to scuttle
minimum wage revisions.
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The Fair Labor Standards Act: Minimum Wage in the 109th Congress, report, June 16, 2006; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc820379/m1/4/: accessed December 14, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.