Updated June 23, 2020:

Missouri Labor Laws

Both Missouri labor laws and federal employment laws regulate the employer-employee relationship in numerous ways. Just some of these regulations include hiring practices and wages. Although federal laws are designed to set standards for employee rights, individual states like Missouri offer their own worker protections.

Missouri labor laws include whistleblower protections for public employees. These laws protect workers who report illegal or unsafe activities from experiencing any form of retaliation. Missouri also has "right to work" laws that prohibit union membership as a condition of employment.

Like most states, Missouri labor laws require at least a minimum wage payment, prohibit discrimination, and allow employees to take leave from work when necessary. Employees are protected in every aspect of the employment relationship, from the first interview to job wages, benefits, employee evaluations, discipline, and even layoffs and termination.

Missouri Wage per Hour Laws

Missouri's current minimum wage is $9.45, which is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. As Missouri residents, local employees are entitled to at least the state minimum wage.

In positions where an employee earns tips, however, a company can pay an hourly wage lower than the minimum as long as the employee's wage adds up to the state's minimum wage when tips are accounted for. Because of this, Missouri businesses may pay tipped workers $4.72 per hour.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets pay standards all employers must follow, including minimum wage and overtime pay. Employers must always pay the highest minimum wage applicable to their employees, whether that minimum wage is set by federal, state, or local law.

For more information regarding Missouri's minimum wage laws, visit the state's Department of Labor website. The Missouri Division of Labor Standards offers information related to workplace issues. The department also enforces certain types of Missouri labor laws and can provide information on worker safety and health, child labor compliance, mine safety, minimum wage, overtime, dismissal rights, and other workplace issues.


Missouri employees are entitled to overtime pay at a rate of 1 ½ times the employee's regular rate when employee work more than 40 hours in a workweek. State labor laws require employers to pay employees overtime unless they are otherwise exempt.

If the employee falls within an exception to the overtime laws, such as a salaried manager as defined by Missouri law, that employee is an exempt employee. As such, the employee is not eligible for overtime pay.

Meals and Breaks

Missouri does not have any specific labor laws requiring an employer to provide breaks to employees. As such, federal rules apply. The law does not require an employer to provide either a meal period or any breaks, but if the employer chooses to do so, breaks lasting less than 20 minutes are considered "on the clock" and must be paid.

Meal periods generally last 30 minutes or more and do not need to be paid, as long as the employee is free to do as he or she wishes to do during the meal or lunch period. In other words, no work-related tasks should take place during an unpaid break.

Under Missouri labor laws, a break is given at the discretion of the employer, but a worker can negotiate such details before accepting the job. Most employees can expect a 15-minute break for each 2-hour span of time during a shift.

Keep in mind that Missouri labor laws are likened to a checks-and-balances system where both employers and employees are held accountable. Employees are responsible for the work they do and employers are responsible for upholding Missouri labor laws regarding breaks.

No employer has a mandate under Missouri labor laws that provides any type of break to an employee under the age of 16. Under Missouri labor law, however, employers must provide breaks of all kinds to employees under 16 if they are working in the entertainment industry. This Missouri labor law for breaks applies to all aspects of the industry, including dance, acting, singing, TV, and movies.

Severance Pay

Unlike some states, Missouri labor laws don't force employers to provide employees with severance pay. If an employer chooses to provide severance packages, the employee must comply with all terms of the established severance policy or employment contract before receiving the severance.

Discrimination and Harassment Law in Missouri

Under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers are not allowed to hire or fire employees based on race, color, national origin, sex (including pregnancy), or religion. Additional federal laws prohibit age-based discrimination, which can occur if the employee is:

  • over 40 years old
  • has a disability
  • or has divulged any genetic information

Employers with at least 15 employees are subject to Missouri laws for age discrimination and must abide by those laws. The Missouri Commission on Human Rights is the entity enforcing these laws.

Employers cannot discriminate in any part of the employment relationship, whether the discrimination is based on:

  • interviews
  • job listings
  • hiring decisions
  • promotions
  • compensation
  • benefits
  • discipline
  • layoffs
  • or termination

Workplace harassment is also illegal under Title VII. Harassment is considered to be any unwelcome statement or action based on a protected trait, such as age or sex, that results in an offensive or hostile work environment. Sexual harassment is the most discussed type of harassment, but harassment might be based on ethnicity, disability, or any other protected trait.

Time Off From Work in Missouri

Most employers offer their employees paid leave, such as paid holidays, sick days, vacation time, or paid time off (PTO). In Missouri, these types of paid leave benefits are at the discretion of the employer.

Some states do require businesses to give employees a certain amount of paid sick days, but neither federal law nor Missouri labor laws demand employers offer paid leave.

In some cases, an employer may be required to offer unpaid leave for other reasons, including:

  • military leave
  • military family leave
  • family and medical leave
  • jury duty
  • and time off to vote

Family and Medical Leave

The U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) states that businesses with at least 50 employees must provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off per year to eligible employees, which they can take for caregiving, illness, and bonding with a new baby.

While an employee is away on FMLA leave, the employer must continue that person's group health benefits. The employee also has the right to be reinstated when the leave is finished, regardless of how much time has passed.

Some states have their own family medical leave law. Missouri, however, does not.

Military Leave

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) allows U.S. employees to take leave from work for any type of federal or state military duty or service. These employees must be given their jobs back when their military leave is finished.

Military Family Leave

Under the FMLA, eligible employees are allowed to take up to 26 weeks off in a single year to care for a family member who was injured while on military duty.

Jury Duty

Missouri employers are required to give employees time off work for jury service. Jury duty leave is unpaid, and employers are not allowed to force employees to use accrued paid leave for jury duty. As such, an employee cannot lose his or her vacation time for serving on a jury.

Time Off to Vote

Missouri employers are required to give employees up to three hours of paid time off to vote unless those employees have at least three hours off work while the polls are open.

Missouri Laws on Workplace Safety and Injuries

In every state, including Missouri, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires employers to provide a safe workplace that is free of known hazards.

As such, an employer must provide healthy, safe working conditions that include any necessary training and safety equipment appropriate to the industry.

Employees have the right to request an Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspection if they believe the employer has committed any health or safety violations. Since it is illegal for employers to retaliate against employees that complain of any unsafe or hazardous working conditions, employees can feel free to reach out to OSHA at any time.

Most Missouri employers are required to carry workers' compensation insurance that covers any employee who suffers an on-the-job illness or injury.

Workers' compensation pays an employee a certain percentage of his or her usual earnings while the employee is unable to work. It also pays for necessary health care and provides vocational rehabilitation, among other benefits.

Employees may contact the Division of Workers' Compensation regarding any job-related injuries or illnesses. The Division of Workers' Compensation works with employers and employees regarding workplace illnesses and injuries.

Leaving Your Job in Missouri

Missouri is a state in which employees work at will. This means that an employee may quit at any time, for any reason. It also means an employee can be fired at any time, for any legal reason. Even at-will employees are protected from being fired for reasons deemed discriminatory or retaliatory.

An employee may also not be fired for:

  • raising discrimination concerns
  • filing an OSHA complaint
  • or making a wage claim against the employer

Unemployment and Insurance Benefits

When an employee is out of work through no fault of their own and he or she didn't quit the job voluntarily (or was not fired for misconduct), that employee may be eligible to draw unemployment benefits. To qualify, however, the employee must meet Missouri's earning requirements.

Eligible employees will receive a percentage of their previous earnings up to a maximum of $320 per week for 20 weeks, as long as the former employee is looking for a new job.

Insurance rights are covered by a federal law known as the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA. If the employee has group health benefits through work, the employee might have the right to continue coverage after leaving the job whether they quit, were laid off, or were fired.

The employee will have to pay the full insurance premium, including any portion the employer used to pay as part of the employment benefit, plus up to 2 percent of that amount for administrative costs in order to continue coverage. The employee can then continue the benefits for up to 18 months. The employee's spouse and other dependents may continue to rely on the benefits for 18 to 36 months, depending on the situation.

Learn more about eligibility requirements, job search requirements, benefit amounts, or file a claim for benefits online at the Missouri Department of Labor website.

Safety and Health (Workplace Health and Safety Complaints and Information)

The 11-member Missouri state commission provides resolutions for employees affected by discrimination claims. They do this by enforcing the Missouri Human Rights Act.

The Commission develops, recommends, and implements methods for preventing and eliminating workplace discrimination as well as discrimination in public accommodations and housing.

The Commission can be contacted at the Kansas City Area Office at the following address:

Gateway Tower II
400 State Ave., Suite 905
Kansas City, KS 66101

Contact numbers for the Commission are as follows:

Kansas City
Phone: (913) 551-5655
TTY: (913) 551-5657

St. Louis
Phone: 1-800-669-4000
TTY: 1-800-669-6820

Where Can I Find Out More Knowledge of Missouri Labor Laws?

Unions are available to provide resources for employees to maintain their rights and make sure that no rights are violated. Keep in mind, though, that Missouri is a "right to work" state, and union membership can be a cause for termination.

Talk to a Lawyer

Whenever an employee feels that their employer has violated their legal rights, that employee should seek out and speak to an experienced Missouri employment lawyer. A knowledgeable lawyer can help determine whether the employee has any legal claims against the employer and, if so, how they can best pursue the complaint. This is where UpCounsel's lawyers come in.

If you need help with Missouri labor laws, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.