In a 2012 survey, the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that 1.8 million workers were paid hourly rates in the Commonwealth of Virginia. If you work in Virginia and get paid by the hour, you're likely entitled to at least the state minimum wage and qualify for overtime. Your employer can also make only certain deductions from your pay. To confirm you're being paid correctly, you must know your rights.
Most hourly paid employees are classified as nonexempt, which means they qualify for minimum wage and overtime pay under federal or state law. Virginia’s minimum wage is the same as the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 per hour, as of date of publication. Virginia’s minimum wage automatically increases when the federal minimum wage goes up. The Fair Labor Standards Act governs federal minimum wage and overtime practices. In Virginia, even if you don’t have FLSA coverage, you are covered under the state minimum wage law.
If you are tipped employee such as a waiter, bartender or busboy, your employer can pay you a direct hourly wage of $2.13 if that amount plus your tips comes to at least the minimum wage. Your employer can take a tip credit of up to $5.12 against your tips to bring your wages up to at least the minimum wage.
Virginia does not have overtime laws; federal overtime laws apply instead. Under the FLSA, nonexempt employees are entitled to overtime pay of 1.5 times their regular hourly rate for work hours that exceed 40 for the week. While most hourly paid employees are not exempt from overtime, this isn’t always the case. For example, teachers and doctors are exempt even if they’re paid hourly.
In Virginia, unless the deduction is mandatory, your employer must obtain your written consent to deduct from your wages. Mandatory deductions include federal and state taxes and wage garnishment. Even if you give your written consent, you cannot be forced to relinquish your wages for cash register shortages, damages to company property or losses due to errors.
Meal Periods and Breaks
If you’re 16 or older, your employer does not have to give you breaks or lunch periods. Employers must give employees 14 and 15 years of age lunch breaks of at least 30 minutes if they work for more than five hours consecutively.
Pay Frequency and Method
Employers in Virginia must pay hourly workers at least biweekly or semi-monthly. Your employer can pay you monthly if you agree to it and if your average weekly wages exceed 150 percent of the Commonwealth’s average weekly wage as defined in section 62.2-500 of the state legislative codes. Your employer may pay you by cash, direct deposit or check, and in some cases, by payroll debit card.
Virginia does not require private sector employers to give paid or unpaid vacation leave or holidays. With the possible exception of the Family Medical Leave Act where unpaid sick leave might apply, your employer doesn't have to give you paid or unpaid sick leave. Your employer also doesn't have to offer you voluntary benefits, such as health insurance or retirement plans. If your employer chooses to provide benefits, it must adhere to the established company policy. In some companies, only full-time employees get certain benefits. For example, to participate in the company's 401(k) plan, you might be required to work 35 or more hours per week. The way benefits are provided is up to the employer.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Minimum Wage Workers in Virginia – 2012
- Virginia Department of Labor and Industry: Labor and Employment Law
- Employment Law Handbook: Virginia - Wage and Hour Laws
- FLSA.com: Coverage Under the FLSA
- U.S. Department of Labor: State Payday Requirements
- Virginia Legislative Information System: 40.1-29
- Virginia Department of Labor and Industry: Payment of Wage Transition
- U.S. Department of Labor: Minimum Wages for Tipped Employees
Grace Ferguson has been writing professionally since 2009. With 10 years of experience in employee benefits and payroll administration, Ferguson has written extensively on topics relating to employment and finance. A research writer as well, she has been published in The Sage Encyclopedia and Mission Bell Media.