Iowa Labor Law on Work Hours

by Jennifer Mueller; Updated September 26, 2017
State Capitol Building in Des Moines

Iowa labor law follows the doctrine of employment-at-will. Absent a specific contract or collective bargaining agreement, employers have no legal duty to provide any breaks, benefits or overtime pay to their employees. Although the state does require employers to follow their own written policies, employers also have the right to change these policies without any prior notice. However, the state's employers may have to comply with federal law regarding overtime pay.

No State Law Mandating Overtime Pay

Iowa law requires employers in the state to pay employees at least $7.25 an hour after 90 calendar days of employment, but there is no state law requiring employers to pay employees at a higher wage rate if they work more than 40 hours in a week. Some employers may include a provision to pay time and a half in their employment contracts, or overtime may be covered by a collective bargaining agreement.

Federal Overtime Pay Requirements

Many Iowa employers may have to comply with federal law requiring businesses involved in interstate commerce to pay employees time and a half for all hours over 40 worked in one workweek. Generally, businesses with annual sales or receipts of $500,000 or more must comply with this law. Some businesses also must comply with federal law even if they have a smaller volume, particularly if their products or services result in the business being directly engaged in interstate commerce.

No State Restrictions on Hours

Iowa law doesn't restrict the number of hours an employee can work, or be scheduled to work, in a day or week. Absent a specific agreement to the contrary, an employer can require employees to work as many hours as he deems necessary to operate his business.

Additionally, the state generally does not require employers to provide their employees with sick leave, vacation time or holidays. There is one exception: if the employee is a veteran, he must be allowed to take Veterans Day off. The holiday may be paid or unpaid.

No Required Breaks

Although minors under 16 must be given a 30-minute break if they work five hours a day or more, Iowa does not legally require any breaks for adult workers. Specific breaks may be provided under an employment contract or mandated in a collective bargaining agreement between employers and a union.

About the Author

Jennifer Mueller began writing and editing professionally in 1995, when she became sports editor of her university's newspaper while also writing a bi-monthly general interest column for an independent tourist publication. Mueller holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and a Juris Doctor from Indiana University Maurer School of Law.

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