The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act serves to protect the employment rights of workers. Among other things, the act imposes a federal minimum wage and time sheets that detail the hours worked by employees. The sheets serve as evidence that the employer paid employees an hourly rate that met or exceeded the federal minimum. In some situations, time sheets also include details of periods of time during which employees receive no pay.

Time Sheets

Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, employers have to maintain payroll records for a minimum of three years. The records must include the name, Social Security number and physical address of every employee as well as each employees' date of birth and gender. The company must maintain records that show each employee's hourly rate of pay and the employee's weekly schedule. Employers must gather payroll information on a weekly basis; employees record this information by completing time sheets. Many states, such as California, have laws that enable employees to review their payroll records at any time. Employees who work as supervisors and people who work in certain professions are exempt from the provisions of the act. These exempt employees do not have to complete time sheets.


Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, as an hourly employee you receive a standard rate of pay for the first 40 hours that you work during a single work week. You receive a rate of pay that amounts to 150 percent of your regular hourly rate for any hours that you work in excess of 40. Your employer has to code the hours on your time sheet to show whether you earned the hourly rate or the overtime rate. If your employer does not pay you for certain hours during your regular work week, then those hours are recorded as being "unpaid."

Unpaid Absences

Many companies allow employees to take paid vacation and sick days. These paid days off are accrued throughout the year. You do not receive any pay if you take sick or vacation days if you do not have enough accumulated days of paid leave to cover that time. If you have to leave work for a few hours, your employer may allow you to take those hours as "unpaid" rather than making you take an entire paid vacation day off work. Therefore, unpaid hours on a time sheet are usually the result of people taking unpaid vacation, sick or personal days.

Leave of Absence

Under the federal Family Medical Leave Act, employees can miss work for up to 12 weeks of work per year in some circumstances such as after the birth of a child or when a family member becomes seriously ill. Employers cannot terminate employees for taking this time off, but employers do not have to pay employees during a leave of absence. Therefore, the time sheet may show the employees as having been on "unpaid" leave for up to 12 weeks due to the Family Medical Leave Act. Similarly, employers do not have to pay people during jury duty or pay reservists who are called up for active duty. The time sheet should show the reason for the absence and state that the employee went unpaid.