Questions abound regarding the basic rights that people have as employees. This makes sense given how large of a role jobs play in most of our lives and the complexity and diverse of issues that affect employment. To further complicate matters, though the federal standards are the most commonly cited standards, they do not always apply. Sometimes employers are only responsible for meeting state, or even local, standards. To help clarify the matter for Minnesota employees, this post will address a few of the most common issues regarding basic employee rights.[1] First, though, it is useful to know when each standard applies.

On the federal side, the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, governs the most common of these issues. The FLSA standards apply in either of two situations:

  1. Enterprise Coverage - where the employer has at least two employees AND has annual revenue of at least $500,000.00 OR is a hospital, business providing medical or nursing care for residents, school or preschool, or a government agency.
  2. Individual Coverage – where the employee is “engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce.” This also includes most domestic service workers.

Where the FLSA does not apply, state standards generally apply. Sometimes both apply. The applicable Minnesota Law is called the “Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act” (MNFLSA), just to keep references as ambiguous as possible. The MNFLSA’s coverage is quite broad; it covers any individual employed by an employer unless an exception applies. There are many exceptions, but they are usually pretty specific and narrow. Individuals not covered include: many agricultural workers, cab drivers, babysitters, executives and other “professionals,” and employees of non-profit religious organizations.


We hope this helps clarify a few of the basic requirements for employers. It may also explain why American employees seem to complain more than employees from most every other developed nation in the world, where paid vacations are required.


[1] The standards and topics listed are not intended to be exhaustive. Other exceptions, exclusions, or variations apply.