Wage and Hour Laws in Wisconsin | Current Wisconsin Labor Laws


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. See FLSA: Overtime for more information regarding overtime requirements.

The state of Wisconsin’s overtime law applies to most employers but not all employees. All qualified workers must receive 1.5 times their regular pay. With that computation, the overtime minimum wage for Wisconsin is $10.88 per hour.


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 federal and Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act may require an employer to provide sick leave benefits to employees. Under Wisconsin law, employees may be given two weeks’ leave of absence per year to care for a sick child, parent, or spouse or if they are sick.

Federal law provides up to 12 weeks of sick leave if they need to care for a parent, spouse, or child with a serious illness.

In this instance, state and federal laws will cover the leave of absence for the first two weeks, while the remaining 10 weeks will be under federal law. If an employee needs additional days or weeks, he must follow his employer’s leave policies.

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.


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.


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We hope you find our newsletters help you better navigate employment and labor law issues.