Wisconsin Payroll Laws (2024 Guide For Employers)

This article will answer the following questions about Wisconsin payroll laws:

  • What are the overtime laws in Wisconsin?
  • How does sick leave work in Wisconsin?
  • Are employees entitled to rest periods in Wisconsin?
  • How does time off and leave work in Wisconsin?
  • What are Wisconsin recordkeeping requirements?

We’ll answer these questions and much more in our whistlestop guide to payroll and employment laws in the state of Wisconsin. Without wasting any time, let’s dive straight in.

Disclaimer: Despite our best efforts to provide you with accurate information on this topic at the time of writing, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the content at the time of reading. This blog article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Consult an attorney for specific guidance on Wisconsin payroll laws.

Wisconsin Payroll Laws (Key Areas)

Wisconsin Minimum Wage Laws

As of 2021, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, which is also the current state minimum wage in Wisconsin. Employers must adhere to the federal minimum wage unless state law mandates a higher wage. Currently, there is no difference between the state and federal minimum wage.

Tipped employees, such as restaurant servers, are subject to a different wage rate. In Wisconsin, employers can pay tipped employees a minimum cash wage of $2.33 per hour, as long as their total hourly wage (including tips) is at least equal to the regular minimum wage.

Overtime Laws in Wisconsin

Overtime laws in Wisconsin require employers to pay employees at a rate of one and a half times their regular rate of pay for any hours worked beyond 40 in a single workweek.

A workweek is defined as a period of seven consecutive calendar days. Note that some exemptions apply, and not all employees are eligible for overtime pay.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides specific guidelines on overtime exemptions, which may include employees classified as executive, administrative, professional, or outside sales. Employers should review the FLSA and state laws to ensure compliance with overtime regulations.

Sick Leave in Wisconsin

Wisconsin does not have a statewide sick leave law. However, employers in the city of Madison are subject to a local ordinance that requires certain employers to provide paid sick leave to employees. Employers in Madison should familiarize themselves with the local ordinance and ensure compliance with its provisions.

Meal & Rest Periods in Wisconsin

Wisconsin law does not require that employers provide brief rest periods, coffee breaks, or meal periods to adult employees.

Time Off & Leave Policies

Wisconsin employers must comply with several leave policies, including medical leave, family and medical leave, and jury duty. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for specific family or medical reasons.

Wisconsin has a similar state law, the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides additional protections and may run concurrently with the federal FMLA.

In addition to medical and family leave, employees in Wisconsin are entitled to paid or unpaid time off for jury duty. Under Wisconsin Statute 756.255, employers are prohibited from discharging or otherwise penalizing an employee who takes time off for jury duty. Employers may choose to pay their employees while they serve on jury duty, but they are not required to do so.

Wage Payments & Payday Regulations

Wisconsin wage laws dictate how employers must pay their employees, including the timing and frequency of wage payments. Employers are required to pay employees at least monthly, with no more than 31 days between paydays. Payment must be made within one week of the end of the pay period.

Wisconsin law also outlines specific rules for final paychecks. If an employee is terminated or resigns, the employer must pay the employee’s wages, including any earned but unused vacation time, on the next regularly scheduled payday.

Recordkeeping Requirements in Wisconsin

Wisconsin employers are required to maintain accurate records of employee work time, wages, and other employment-related information. The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) mandates that employers maintain the following records for each employee:

  1. Name, address, and Social Security number
  2. Date of birth (if under 19 years old)
  3. Occupation or job title
  4. Time of day and day of the week when the workweek begins
  5. Hours worked each day and total hours worked each week
  6. Rate of pay and the basis on which wages are paid (e.g., hourly, weekly)
  7. Regular hourly wage, if applicable
  8. Total daily or weekly straight-time earnings
  9. Total overtime earnings for the workweek
  10. Total wages paid each pay period
  11. Date of payment and the pay period covered

You should retain these records for at least three years and ensure they are available for inspection by the DWD upon request.

Employers are also required to post specific notices and posters in the workplace, informing employees of their rights under various labor laws, such as minimum wage, family and medical leave, and other employment protections.

Independent Contractors & Employment Relationships in Wisconsin (How Does It Work?)

It is crucial for Wisconsin employers to correctly classify their workers as either employees or independent contractors. Independent contractors are not covered by many of the protections and benefits that apply to employees, such as minimum wage, overtime pay, and medical leave. However, misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor can lead to penalties, back wages, and potential lawsuits.

The DWD and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provide guidelines to help employers determine the appropriate classification for workers. Key factors to consider include the level of control the employer has over the worker’s schedule, work conditions, and method of payment.

Child Labor Laws in Wisconsin

Wisconsin child labor laws regulate the employment of minors to ensure their safety and well-being. Employers must obtain a work permit for all employees under the age of 18, with some exceptions. The DWD provides additional information on work permit requirements and the specific limitations on hours and types of work that apply to minors.

Anti-Discrimination & Fair Employment Practices

Wisconsin law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees or applicants based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, disability, marital status, or sexual orientation. Employers must comply with the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act and the federal Civil Rights Act, which provide protections against discrimination in hiring, firing, promotions, and other terms and conditions of employment.

Tracking Hours Worked & Calculating Regular Pay in Wisconsin

Employers must accurately track the number of hours worked by employees to ensure compliance with wage and hour laws. Timekeeping systems should account for all work time, including breaks, training, and travel time when applicable. Employers should also calculate each employee’s regular pay rate based on their total hours worked in a calendar week. Regular pay includes an employee’s base hourly wage, as well as any additional compensation, such as commissions or bonuses.

Workmanship & Attorney’s Fees

In cases where disputes arise between employers and employees regarding workmanship or other employment-related matters, it is not uncommon for the parties to seek legal counsel. Employers should be aware that, under certain circumstances, they may be responsible for paying an employee’s attorney’s fees if the employee prevails in a claim against the employer.

Collective Bargaining Agreements & Employment Contracts

Employers who have unionized workforces may be subject to collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) that outline specific terms and conditions of employment, such as wages, hours, and working conditions. CBAs may provide employees with different rights and protections than those outlined in state and federal labor laws, such as the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Employers should carefully review and adhere to the terms of any applicable CBAs and employment contracts.

Wisconsin Payroll Laws (Closing Thoughts)

Complying with Wisconsin labor laws is crucial for employers to maintain a productive work environment and avoid potential legal disputes or fines. While this guide offers an overview of the most important aspects of Wisconsin labor laws, but employers should consult with a labor law attorney for guidance specific to their situation.

Disclaimer: Not Legal Advice

The information provided in this article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Laws and regulations may change over time, and each employer’s situation may be unique. Employers and employees should consult with an attorney or a qualified professional for specific guidance regarding their rights and obligations under Wisconsin labor laws and federal regulations.

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