Wages and Benefits – An Overview

Getting paid the wages you deserve, and getting the benefits you are entitled to receive, are important topics for most workers. Determining what we deserve, and what we are entitled to, has become increasingly complicated. Rules on wages have changed over the years, and the laws and rules that govern benefit plans are very complicated and difficult to understand. An attorney with a background in employment law can help you cut through the confusion and determine you what you are entitled to receive.


Federal and state law set out in detail the minimum wage every worker is entitled to receive. The laws also define the workers who are entitled to receive overtime pay for working longer hours. Unfortunately, whether they do so intentionally or not, many employers fail to comply with these legal requirements. Common violations of the law on wages include:

  • not paying the correct minimum wage.
  • paying the lower, training wage to workers who should be paid more.
  • not paying overtime.
  • making employees work “off-the-clock,” and not paying them for it.
  • deducting too much for tips.
  • deducting for wages paid in goods, such as meals or food.
  • Employees should know their rights. The wage and hour laws are meant to protect employees, and to make
  • sure that their employers treat them with some degree of fairness. You are entitled to receive fair pay for your work, and the laws exist to help you. Do not hesitate to take advantage of those laws.


The term “benefits” is a broad one. It covers anything an employee receives other than cash wages. Some benefits-such as family or medical leave-are required by law. These benefits generally do not cost your employer anything, except perhaps your time away from work. If you are an employee covered by a law that requires a certain benefit, such as leave for certain purposes, your employer must allow you to take advantage of that benefit with no penalty to you.

Some benefits are optional, and are a matter to be negotiated by you and your employer. These benefits include medical, disability, or dental insurance, life insurance, or a pension plan. Although these benefits are optional, in that the employer is not required by law to provide them, an employer who does choose to provide them must follow certain legal rules and regulations. These rules and regulations are extremely complex and technical. They provide, among other things, that you are to receive notice of what your benefit plan is, and what it covers. The law requires that you be given an opportunity to understand what the benefits are that you earn by working for your employer.


Understanding your rights under the laws that govern wages and benefits is not an easy task. The rules are complicated, and easily violated, even if your employer does not intend to violate them. An attorney with experience in employment law can work with you so that you understand your rights and what you are entitled to receive.

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