Wisconsin Labor Laws 2024 | Wage and Hour Laws in Wisconsin


Wisconsin Labor Laws

Wisconsin labor laws, including Wisconsin labor laws 2024, impact the daily lives of employees and employers in Wisconsin. Residents of Wisconsin have many questions that affect them every day regarding Wisconsin labor laws from minimum wage rates, overtime, wage payments, vacation and sick leave, child labor, meal and rest breaks, and more.

In addition to Wisconsin labor laws, employer must also comply with federal labor laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), and many other federal laws. And when federal laws are different from state Wisconsin labor laws, usually companies must comply with the law that provides their workers the best protection.

Below we provide comprehensive information and resources regarding your more pressing Wisconsin labor law questions to help you answer the question and help you make the right decision about you and your employment.



Minimum Wage

Wisconsin’s current minimum wage is $7.25.

The current Wisconsin minimum wage amount is similar to the present federal minimum wage amount. Most Wisconsin employees receive this amount except for tipped employees, student workers, and some exempted jobs.

Before 2008, Wisconsin’s minimum wage rate was $6.50. The state decided to add $0.75, aligning it with the federal rate.

For more information on Wisconsin’s minimum wage laws, visit our Wisconsin Minimum Wage Laws page, which includes topics such as minimum wage, tip minimum wage, tip sharing and pooling, and subminimum wages.

Related topic covered on other pages include:


Overtime

Wisconsin labor laws require an employer to pay overtime to employees, unless otherwise exempt, for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek. WI Admin. Rules DWD 274.03. The state of Wisconsin’s overtime law applies to most employers but not all employees. All qualified workers must receive overtime pay at one and one-half times (1.5 times) their regular rate of pay.


Prevailing Wages

Under certain circumstances, employers in Wisconsin may be required to pay residents wage rates established by the federal or state prevailing wage rates and rules. The prevailing wage rates may be different from the state’s standard minimum wage rates. Employees may be eligible for prevailing wages if they work on federal or state government or government-funded construction projects or perform certain federal or state government services. See the Wisconsin Prevailing Wages, Davis-Bacon and Related Acts, McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA), and Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act (PCA) for more information about prevailing wages.

The 2017 Wisconsin Act 59 or the 2017-2019 Wisconsin State Budget canceled the state’s prevailing wage laws. Its cancellation took effect on September 23, 2017, changing the requirements for state-funded projects scheduled for bidding after the said date.

The US Department of Labor currently determines the prevailing wage rates according to the associated trades per county.


Meals and Breaks

Wisconsin labor laws require employers to provide employees under the age of eighteen (18) at least a 30-minute duty free meal period when working a shift greater than six (6) hours in duration.

Wisconsin does not require employers to provide breaks, including lunch breaks, for workers eighteen (18) years old or older, although it is recommended. An employer who chooses to provide a break in excess of thirty (30) minutes does not have to pay wages for the break period if the employee is free to leave the worksite and the employee does not actually perform work. Breaks lasting less than thirty (30) minutes must be paid. WI Dept. of Workforce Dev.: Meal and Breaks, WI Admin. Rules DWD 274.02.

Some employers may require scheduled breaks from their employees, believing that breaks stimulate mental focus and, therefore, increase productivity. Though there is no federal law regarding the provision of breaks, most employers offer rest periods as part of their employment policy.

One Day Rest in Seven

Wisconsin requires employers operating factories or mercantile establishments to provide employees with at least one (1) period of twenty-four (24) consecutive hours of rest in every calendar week. WI Dept. of Workforce Dev.: One Day Rest in Seven.


Nursing Mother Breaks

Wisconsin labor laws do not require employers to provide nursing mothers with breaks to express breast milk. However, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act requires certain employees to provide nonexempt nursing mothers for one (1) year following a child’s birth with reasonable rest breaks to express milk and private spaces, other than a bathroom, to express breast milk.

Although there’s no law supporting nursing mothers in the workplace other than the one from FLSA, Dane County sets itself apart.

This second-largest county passed a resolution in 2014 requiring all buildings owned by Dane County must provide an appropriate space for nursing mothers to extract breastmilk. Furthermore, Wisconsin exempts all nursing mothers from public indecency laws.


Leave Laws

Vacation Leave

Under the Wisconsin labor law, private employers don’t have to provide vacation benefits to their employees, with or without pay. Therefore, employers may offer vacation leave to their employees according to the company’s needs and its workers.

An employer may set up a policy or contract disqualifying workers from getting paid for their acquired and earned vacation upon separation from the company due to noncompliance with policies.

Alternatively, these employers must grant their employees vacation leave if they have promised to do so. Even if the state law does not require employers to pay unused accrued vacation upon separation from the company, most contracts indicate otherwise.

Sick Leave

The Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act requires an employer to provide unpaid leave benefits to employees for an employee’s serious health condition, the serious health condition of family member including a parent, child or spouse, or for the birth or adoption of a child. To be eligible, employers must have 50 or more permanent employees during at least six (6) of the last 12 months and the employee must have worked for at least 52 consecutive weeks and for at least 1000 hours in the preceding 52 week period. Eligible employees will be entitled:

  • up to two (2) weeks of leave for their own serious health condition in a calendar year
  • up to two (2) weeks for the serious health condition of a parent, child or spouse
  • up to six (6) weeks for the birth or adoption of a child

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may also apply to Wisconsin employers and employees which provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for eligible employees.

Holiday Leave

There is no Wisconsin law requiring private employers to provide holiday leave to their employees, with or without pay. They can even require their employees to report for work during holidays, and these private employers don’t have to compensate them with premium pay.

The employees will only receive an additional 1.5 percent from their regular pay if they complete work within the standard overtime hours.

Jury Duty Leave

Employers are not required to pay their employees while performing jury duty. However, they must grant a leave of absence to their workers without losing service time.

During an employee’s jury duty, his employment status must not change. An employer cannot discharge or demote the employee. Employers are expected to work with the courts and ensure that all Wisconsin employees can respond to a jury summons.

Voting Leave

Under Wisconsin law, employers must provide their employees with unpaid three hours of time off to vote. However, the employee must inform the company about his intention to vote before election day. As such, the employer may decide when the worker can vote.

If you want to learn more about Wisconsin vacation, sick, holiday and other leave laws, here’s a detailed guide.

Wisconsin Bone Marrow and Organ Donation Leave Act

Under the Wisconsin Bone Marrow and Organ Donation Leave Act, employers with 50 or more employees must provide eligible employees with at lest six (6) weeks of unpaid leave related to serving as a bone marrow or organ donor. To be eligible, employees must have worked at least 52 consecutive weeks for the employer and have worked at least 1,000 number of hours during the previous 52-week period.


Severance Pay

Wisconsin labor laws do not require employers to provide employees with severance pay. If an employer chooses to provide severance benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.

Often, employers offer this benefit to prevent any legal claims from terminated employees. Generally, the amount of the severance pay depends on the employee’s held position and his employment duration.

Under federal law, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act requires that employees 40 years and older have 21 days to contemplate a severance agreement. If an employee decides to sign the agreement, he has seven days to retract and cancel.


Unemployment

Under certain circumstances, Wisconsin residents may be eligible for unemployment benefits while they search for another job. You are required to certify that you are unemployed on a weekly basis to receive these benefits. See Wisconsin State Unemployment Benefits.

Under federal law, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act requires that employees 40 years and older have 21 days to contemplate a severance agreement. If an employee decides to sign the agreement, he has seven days to retract and cancel.

Under federal law, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act requires that employees 40 years and older have 21 days to contemplate a severance agreement. If an employee decides to sign the agreement, he has seven days to retract and cancel.


Other Wisconsin Labor Laws Topics and Resources

There are several other Wisconsin labor laws governing the employers and their workplaces. Below are those topics and resources:

  • The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development enforces Wisconsin child labor laws for children 17 years of age and younger including topics including work during school hours and summer hours, school days and non-school days, summer days of employment (usually June 1 to Labor Day), hour restrictions, work permits, and hazardous occupations.
  • The Wisconsin Fair Employment Law is enforced by the Department of Workforce Development Equal Rights Division. Employees are also protected by federal discrimination laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The state and federal discrimination laws offer employees protections and violations based on the following:
Disability (a mental or physical impairment)Sex, including sexual harassmentGender expressionNational Origin
RaceSexual orientationReligionAncestry
CreedGender identityAge (40+)Pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions
ColorGenetic informationMilitary statusVeteran status
Marital statusHonesty testingUse of lawful products during nonworking hoursArrest or conviction record
RetaliationGenetic testing
  • Wisconsin labor laws regarding wage payment laws including covering frequency and manner of wage payments, regular paydays, pay periods, deductions, direct deposit and payroll cards, pay statements, record keeping, final paychecks, and notice requirements.
  • Wisconsin labor laws regarding minimum wage and overtime exemptions covering non-exempt employees and exempt employees.
  • Wisconsin labor law regarding hours worked including rest breaks, meal breaks, on-call, waiting, travel, sleeping, and meeting times.
  • Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development enforces the state laws and regulations regarding workplace safety and health. Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) that covers federal workplace safety and health requirements.
  • Active duty employees, including those in the national guard, and veterans may also be eligible for military leave under the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
  • The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development manages workers’ compensation in Wisconsin and worker compensation insurance claims and enforcement. Employees who are injured on the job may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits that minimizes the financial impact on the employee.
  • Under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, employers in Wisconsin are required to provide 60-day advanced notice to any employees that may be impacted by a business closing or mass layoff if 50 or more employees will be impacted.
  • If Wisconsin employers provide employees health care benefits, they must comply with the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) that provides health coverage protections to employees under certain circumstances such as voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events.

Other State’s Labor Law and Wage and Hour Information

AlabamaHawaiiMassachusettsNew MexicoSouth Dakota
AlaskaIdahoMichiganNew YorkTennessee
ArizonaIllinoisMinnesotaNorth CarolinaTexas
ArkansasIndianaMississippiNorth DakotaUtah
CaliforniaIowaMissouriOhioVermont
ColoradoKansasMontanaOklahomaVirginia
ConnecticutKentuckyNebraskaOregonWashington
DelawareLouisianaNevadaPennsylvaniaWest Virginia
District of ColumbiaMaineNew HampshireRhode IslandWisconsin
FloridaMarylandNew JerseySouth CarolinaWyoming
Georgia
Employment Law Updates
Laws change in a moment. Sign up to stay informed.
Employment Law Updates
Laws change in a moment. Sign up to stay informed.

Have employees in more than one state? SUBSCRIBE HERE!

Have employees in more than one state? SUBSCRIBE HERE!