It’s important to stay up to date on all of the employment laws in your state so that you can maintain compliance in your business. We did some of the hard work for you and put some of the most important Iowa statutes in one place so you can either learn them for the first time or give yourself a refresher. 

However, remember that our summary is not qualified legal advice, laws are always subject to change, and they can vary from municipality to municipality. 

It’s up to you to make sure you’re compliant with all laws and statutes in your area. Consult with a qualified lawyer and/or your local government agencies if you have questions or concerns. 

Here are a few Iowa labor laws every small business owner should know.


First, here are a few helpful links and resources for you to bookmark and refer back to:


  • Sick Days: Employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid sick leave.
  • Medical Leave: Employers may be required to provide an employee unpaid medical leave in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act or other federal laws.
  • Vacation Leave: Employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid vacation leave but must comply with their own established policies if they choose to implement one.
    • Employers may deny employees payment for accrued vacation leave upon separation or disqualify them from receiving payment for the leave if they fail to comply with specific requirements if it is in their contract. 
    • An employer must pay accrued vacation to an employee upon separation from employment if its policy requires it. 
    • Employers may cap the amount of vacation leave an employee can accrue. 
    • Employers may implement a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy requiring employees to use their vacation time by a set date. 
  • Jury Duty: Employers do not have to pay employees for time spent responding to a jury summons unless their policy stipulates they have to do so, but employees cannot be terminated or otherwise penalized for doing so. 
  • Holiday Leave: Private employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid time off for holidays. 
  • Voting Leave:  Employers must provide employees with enough paid leave to ensure that an employee has 3 hours when combined with non-working time to vote while the polls are open. The employee must request the leave in writing prior to the day of the vote. 
  • Bereavement Leave: Employers are not required to provide bereavement leave. 

Final Paycheck

Employees who separate from employment for any reason must be paid final wages by the next regular payday. 

Minimum Wage

  • The current minimum wage in Iowa is $7.25.
  • Minimum wage requirements don’t apply to employers with an annual gross sales volume of less than $300,000, except for the following industries that are not subject to a minimum sales threshold:
    • Laundry and clothing repair 
    • Construction or reconstruction
    • Hospitals 
    • Schools
    • Public agencies 

Tipped Wages

Child Labor

  • Minors 14 and 15 years of age may work in retail and food service, agriculture, caddying on golf courses, selling gas and oil, and in offices. They may also work in street trades, migrant labor and as models. They may not work in establishments that serve alcohol and are prohibited from working in the following hazardous occupations:
    • Manufacturing or construction
    • Insurance
    • Real estate 
    • Hotels or motels 
    • Restaurants
    • Local government
    • Lumberyard
    • Garages or auto repair
    • Hospitals and nursing homes 
    • Greenhouses and nurseries 
    • Printing and publishing firms
  • When school is in session, minors 14 and 15 years of age may not work during school hours and are subject to these following time restrictions:
    • 4 hours a day outside of school hours 
    • 28 hours a week
    • In between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (4 a.m. to 7 a.m. if they work in street trades, migrant laborers may work from 5 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.) 
    • If working as a model, the youth may work from 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. up to 3 hours a day or 12 hours per month. 
  • The same time restrictions apply when school is not in session, except the maximum time increases to 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week. 
  • Minors 16 and 17 years of age may not work in an establishment that sells or serves alcohol and are prohibited from working in these hazardous occupations:
    • Any exposure to explosives
    • Logging or sawmills
    • Using power-driven machinery 
    • Exposure to radioactive material
    • Slaughter or meat packaging
    • Wrecking or demolition
    • Roofing 
    • Excavating 
    • Mining
    • Operating motor vehicles 
  • When school is in session, minors 16 and 17 years of age are subject to the following time restrictions:
    • No working during school hours 
    • No more than 4 hours a day
    • No more than 28 hours a week
    • Only in between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. 
  • When school is not in session, they may work 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week. 

Meal and Rest Breaks, Overtime

  • Employers are required to grant a meal period of at least 30 minutes to minor employees who are scheduled to work 5 or more consecutive hours. 
  • There are no state laws regarding breaks or meal periods, so federal law applies. The federal law does not require employers to provide breaks, but if they choose to do so, breaks less than 20 minutes must be paid. Meal periods do not need to be paid as long as the employees are free to do as they wish.  
  • Iowa labor laws do not have laws governing the payment of overtime, so federal overtime laws apply. 

Employment Discrimination

  • The Iowa Civil Rights Act makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of age (18 or older), race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, disability (physical or mental), or pregnancy, or to retaliate for opposition to discrimination or participation in proceedings. 
  • Click here to read our blog on what acceptable and unacceptable questions to ask during an interview.       


Iowa is an employment-at-will state, which means that without a written employee contract, employees can be terminated for any reason at any time, provided that the reason is not discriminatory and that the employer is not retaliating against the employee for a rightful action. 

Shift Scheduling

There are currently no laws regarding shift scheduling in Iowa.

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