Not following labor and salary laws can mean big problems for Utah business owners. Labor laws protect employees' rights and can make a more level playing field for employers throughout the state by requiring that businesses pay a mandatory minimum wage. Though strongly unionized in the early 19th century, many unions broke up in the latter half of the century leaving state law to provide worker protection.
The minimum wage for adult workers in Utah is $7.25 per hour as of 2011. Tipped employees have a minimum wage of $2.13 per hour if after averaging their tips and pay for a month they are making $7.25 per hour. If a tipped employee does not average the regular minimum wage, the employer must make up the difference. Employers can pay minors $4.25 per hour as a training wage, but after 90 days must raise their pay to the regular minimum.
Utah follows the federal guidelines for overtime pay, which require employers pay time and a half for all hours worked over 40. As of 2011, the minimum overtime wage in Utah is $10.88. Salaried employees making $455 or more per week do not qualify for overtime. Certain positions in sales, transportation, agricultural and housekeeping are exempt from overtime laws, as are independent contractors. Utah does not restrict the number of hours an employee can work, but regardless of whether the employer considers an employee part- or full-time, the employee is eligible for overtime after 40 hours.
Payment of Wages
Employers can pay employees weekly, biweekly or monthly but must pay employees who are no longer working for the company within 24 hours after their termination. This law does not apply to employees who quit or leave voluntarily. Employers can wait until the next regularly scheduled payday to pay employees who leave on their own. If an employee does not receive payment, they have the right to file a complaint with the Utah Labor Commission.
There are no regulations governing rest or meal breaks for adults. Minors must receive a rest break of at least 10 minutes following every three hours of work and at least 30 minutes for a meal no less than five hours after starting work.
Deciding Between State and Federal Law
In some instances, state and federal laws regarding employment and wages differ. If the laws are different, employers must follow the stricter of the two regulations. An example of this is the Family Medical Leave Act, which requires employers with 50 or more employees to grant leaves of absence to employees with medical problems of their own or a family member. The employee can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave and must have their job available when he returns. Since Utah has no specific laws addressing family medical leave, employers must follow federal guidelines and allow employees to take unpaid medical leave.