Nebraska Labor Laws: Everything You Need to Know
Nebraska labor laws outline the requirements of employers operating businesses in this specific state to their employees & exist along with federal legislation.7 min read
Nebraska Labor Laws
Nebraska labor laws outline the requirements of employers operating businesses in this specific state to their employees, and they exist along with federal legislation that employers must also follow. The employee protections pertain to minimum wage, overtime, meals and breaks, discrimination, military service, and more.
Nebraska’s Minimum Wage
The minimum wage in Nebraska is currently $9. This means a full-time minimum wage worker would earn $360 each week or $1,8720 annually. Nebraska labor laws govern minimum wage.
Nebraska’s Overtime Wage
No Nebraska labor laws exist for the payment of overtime. While the state has a “Wage and Hour Act,” it does not pertain specifically to NE overtime laws. That said, the Fair Standards Labor Act regulates Nebraska overtime laws.
Nebraska’s Meals and Breaks
As per NE labor laws, employers must give a 30-minute lunch period in each shift of at least 8 hours to employees who work in:
- Assembling plants
- Mechanical environments
For all remaining business types, employers decide the provision of lunch periods and other kinds of breaks, no matter how long the shift. If the employer decides to give extra breaks, he or she must pay the employee if the breaks last less than 20 minutes each, as per federal law. For longer breaks of 30 minutes or less (typically called meal or lunch breaks), these do not have to be paid as long as the employee can do as desired during this period.
Nebraska’s Severance Pay
No requirement exists in Nebraska labor laws to provide severance pay to employees. If an employer decides to provide severance pay to employees, then it must meet the terms of the employment contract or policy in place.
Nebraska Laws Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment
Federal law must be followed, and, in this case, it is the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which makes it illegal for employers to factor in any of these attributes in employment decisions:
- Religious orientation
- Including pregnancy
- National Origin
Other federal legislation bans age discrimination (for workers 40 and over), as well as discrimination on the basis of disability or genetic details. If there are at least 15 employees, then an employer must not discriminate as per these federal laws: Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. This company must also abide by NE anti-discrimination law.
If a company has 20 employees or more, then the organization is subject to The Age Discrimination in Employment Act that safeguards workers 40 years or older from discrimination. A business with at least 4 employees must follow the Immigration Reform and Control Act for anti-discrimination on the basis of citizenship. All companies, regardless of size, must provide men and women equal pay for equal work, as per the Equal Pay Act.
Employers cannot discriminate against any aspect of employment, as per Nebraska Labor Laws, when it comes to:
Harassment is also illegal under Nebraska law for any of the protected traits (race, color, sex, religion, or national origin). If an employee complains of harassment, there are legal protections in place to protect this person from retaliation. The employer cannot fire, discipline, or perform another negative action against the employee because of the complaint within the business or made to a governmental division, such as the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission, or in a lawsuit.
Your Right to Work in Nebraska
Paid leave is not an employer requirement in Nebraska, under state or federal law. Most employers do voluntarily provide their workers paid leave for:
- Sick leave
- Vacation time
- Paid time off or PTO benefits
Employers May Be Required to Offer Unpaid Leave for Other Reasons
As per Nebraska labor laws and the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Right Act, employers must allow employees employment leave for military service (federal or state). Plus, the employee must be reinstated upon return from leave and not be discriminated against because they serve.
Nebraska employers with 50 or more employees must provide family and medical leave to eligible employees. This unpaid leave is typically 12 weeks off annually (sometimes longer) and must be for illness and caregiving reasons, as per the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). While on FMLA leave, the employer must keep providing the employee with group health benefits and the employee has the right to reinstatement when leave finishes.
Adoption leave under NE law requires that employers provide the same leave to adoptive parents as to biological parents, except step-parent adoptions. Nebraska labor laws and the FMLA also provide for unpaid military family leave; employers must provide employees time off when a family members called to active military duty. In certain cases, employers must also provide employees with leave when they must care for family members seriously hurt in active military services (as per the FMLA).
Voting is another circumstance when Nebraska employees are entitled to unpaid leave. Employees are allowed up to 2 hours off work to vote and are paid for it. This time must be allowed when polls are open and the 2 hours given must be consecutive.
Employers also must provide employees with time off work for jury duty. It is illegal for employers to threaten employees who are called for jury service and employers cannot demand that employees work a night shift during their jury duty. Employers must pay employees normal pay for jury duty, minus any fees the court provides them.
Nebraska Workers’ Compensation and Workplace Safety Laws
In Nebraska and every other U.S. state, the federal OSHA or Occupational Safety and Health Act requires that employers offer a safe work environment without any acknowledged hazards. It is the employer’s responsibility to provide:
- Benign working conditions
- Healthy working conditions
- Safety equipment necessary for the industry
- Safety training for the needed equipment
Employees are entitled to request OSHA inspection if they think there are employer safety violations. Employers cannot retaliate against any employee who complains of unsafe or unhealthy workplace conditions. If an employee suffers an injury while on the job, they are likely allowed workers’ compensation. The majority of Nebraska employers must have workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation provides the injured worker with a percentage of normal earnings, pays for required medical treatment, and provides benefits (for example, vocational rehab).
Nebraska Wage and Hour Laws
If employees work over 40 hours per week, then the employer must pay time and a half to the workers, according to the FLSA and Nebraska labor laws. But not every employee has the right to overtime pay. If an employee is an exception to overtime laws then he or she is ineligible for overtime. One example is if the person is deemed a salaried manager under the law’s definition of the position.
Regarding wages, employers must pay the highest minimum wage that applies to employees, as per federal, state, or local laws. The minimum wage of $9 in Nebraska is more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Only employers with 4 workers or more must follow Nebraska labor laws on minimum wage. Thus, if your employer has 3 workers or fewer, then you are entitled to the federal minimum wage ($7.25).
If tips are part of your pay, then your employer can pay you less than minimum wage. It can be as little as $2.13 hourly, provided that you earn enough pay from tips to bring the workers’ hourly wage up to the minimum. The same is true for the tipped wage amount whether it is a federal or state minimum wage.
Leaving Your Nebraska Job
Typically, Nebraska employees work “at will,” which means an employer can dismiss them from their job at any point for any reason not deemed illegal. Even at-will workers cannot get fired for discriminatory or retaliatory reasons, such as being fired for complaining about workplace discrimination. If an employee loses his or her job because of a layoff or for no fault of the employee (in other words, not for misconduct or voluntarily leaving the job), the employee may be eligible for unemployment benefits.
Even while receiving unemployment benefits, employees must still search for work actively. The amount received is a percentage of the employee’s previous earnings and lasts 26 weeks as an active job search is undergone. The employee can continue his or her health coverage even when employment ends, under the federal COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) but the employee must pay a premium for receiving it.
Nebraska’s Federal Law: Paid Versus Unpaid Breaks
Employers need not pay for bona fide meal breaks, which means they last 30 minutes or longer. Shorter breaks though do qualify for pay. During the meal break, employers are relieved of all workplace responsibilities. These rules are only for employers allowing breaks; federal law does not require employers to provide any breaks, although the payment for lengthier breaks is necessary if breaks are offered.
Nebraska Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) applies to all states, although each state is allowed to develop their own laws and rules regarding it to provide maximum worker protection than federal law offers them. If Nebraska law and the federal FLSA conflict, the law that prevails is the one most beneficial to the employee. For this reason, it is paramount that employers understand federal and state laws, not just one or the other.
The federal FLSA controls:
- Minimum wage
- Equal Pay
- Child labor
The FLSA provides these regulations for all employees of businesses engaged in foreign or interstate commerce and for government employees (state and local governments). The United States Department of Labor (DOL)’s Wage and Hour Division enforces the FLSA.
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