The federal security guard labor laws cover private security firms that provide security guard services and security guards in the public sector. Security guards in both sectors typically obtain a state license to provide security services and are hourly employees. The Federal Labor Standards Act applies to security guards if the guard’s employer is engaged in commerce producing goods or services with sales in excess of $500,000 annually.
Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay
The FLSA requires employers to pay security guards the federal minimum wage of $7.25 hourly, as of 2009. Security guards must be paid time-and-a-half of the guard’s normal pay for hours that exceed a 40-hour workweek. Overtime pay must be calculated weekly, and the employer may not simply average the security guard’s workweek over two-week pay cycles. Security guard firms must preserve work records to keep track of hours worked for each week. States may also have their own minimum wage and overtime pay requirements which provide greater protections for employees. Employers must comply with both federal and state requirements.
Security Guard Posts and Hours Worked
Security guards must be compensated for shift work performed at each post. If a guard works more than one post weekly, then the guard must be paid for all of the hours worked at all posts weekly. The security guard’s travel time between each post must also be compensated and counted towards overtime pay.
If the security guard’s employer requires employees to purchase uniforms, equipment including, guns, belt, whistle and other trade tools, the employer must compensate the employee accordingly. In other words, if purchasing all of the equipment and uniform would decrease the security guard’s pay to below minimum wage or would not provide any overtime pay, then the security guard must not be required to purchase them as an out-of-pocket expense. This requirement applies to dry cleaning costs and tailoring costs to clean and tailor uniforms.
Child Labor Laws
Amendments to the FLSA were passed in 1996 to allow businesses to pay a youth minimum wage rate of $4.25 hourly for workers under 20-years old for the first three-months after hiring. Security firms may not fire employees in order to hire an employee under 20 years of age to pay them less money.
State Law Requirement
States may provide additional labor laws covering security guards. For instance, California’s labor law requires businesses provide its employees with a 30-minute meal break for employees who work at least five-hours per day. The employee must be allowed to leave the worksite to take the meal break without any work commitments, unless the nature of the job precludes the employee from doing so. California recognizes that security guards solely stationed to guard a post may not be able to leave the job-site. In this situation, the employee and employer must sign a written agreement acknowledging the nature of the job precludes the employee from leaving the post freely, and as such, the employee must be allowed to exercise an “on-duty” meal period.