labor law guide
The Arkansas employment laws every business owner should know
Wages and breaks
The current minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.64.
Arkansas law allows employees to participate in tip pooling arrangements. They must consent to participating in arrangements where the employer collects all tips and redistributes them according to a predetermined policy.
The Arkansas state government laws require employers with 4 or more employees to pay non-exempt employees overtime at a rate of 1½ times their regular rate when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek.
The United States overtime rule stipulates that the minimum salary requirement for administrative, professional, and executive exemptions is $684 per week, or $35,568 per year. Workers making at least this salary level may be eligible for overtime based on their job duties.
Arkansas does not require employers to provide meal breaks.
If employers choose to provide breaks, 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.
Lactating employees must be provided with a private place that is close to their work area to express milk and reasonable break time to do so. The space may not be a toilet stall.
Employers may require employees to take their lactation breaks during their rest and meal breaks if possible and that they make reasonable efforts to minimize disruption to the operations of the business.
If standard paid breaks are provided, time taken in excess of those breaks may be unpaid.
If no paid breaks are provided, all time may be unpaid. (Exempt employees’ pay may not be affected by lactation break time.)
Employers may be exempted from these requirements if they can show that providing the accommodation would create an undue hardship.
Final paychecks in Arkansas
Employees who are fired or laid off must be paid all final wages within 7 days of the termination.
Employees who quit or resign due to a labor dispute must be paid final wages by the next regularly scheduled payday.
Arkansas child labor laws
Minors under the age of 16 may work a maximum of 6 days or 48 hours in a week, and 8 hours a day. They may only work after 6 a.m. and until 7 p.m. on school nights, but can work until 9 p.m. on nights that are not followed by a school day.
Minors 16 years of age or older may work a maximum of 6 days or 54 hours a week, and 10 consecutive hours a day. They may not work more than 10 hours in a 24-hour period and may only work after 6 a.m. and until 11 p.m.
Employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid sick leave but must comply with their own established policies if they choose to implement one.
There is no Arkansas statute, but employers may be required to provide an employee unpaid leave in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act or other federal laws.
Employers are not required to provide bereavement 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.
Private employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid time off for holidays.
Employers are not required to pay an employee for time taken to respond to a jury summons, but they are not allowed to punish the employee in any way and may not require them to use any available vacation or sick leave.
Employers must schedule time so each employee has enough time to vote on election day, but do not have to pay employees for any time they take off to vote.
Employers must provide leave to employees who are members of the armed forces when they are called to active duty. After their service, they are entitled to all the privileges and benefits of their employment, including returning to their previous position.
Employers must allow their employees to take up to 90 days of leave to donate an organ or bone marrow.
The employer may decide whether the leave is paid or unpaid and can require that the employee request the leave in writing.
An employee is not entitled to organ or bone marrow donation leave if they are eligible for the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
Hiring and firing
The Arkansas Civil Rights Act protects employee rights by making it illegal for an employer to discriminate because of race, religion, national origin, gender, or the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability.
State and federal law makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of: Race, Color, Age, Sex, Sexual orientation, Gender, Gender identity, Religion, National origin, Pregnancy, Genetic information, including family medical history, Physical or mental disability, Child or spousal support withholding, Military or veteran status, Citizenship and/or immigration status.
Click here to read our blog on what acceptable and unacceptable questions to ask during an interview (remember, it’s not official legal advice).
Arkansas is an employment-at-will state, which means that without a written employee contract or official employee handbook, 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.
Regarding employment and payroll data, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and others, you must:
For at least 3 years: keep payroll records, certificates, agreements, notices, collective bargaining agreements, employment contracts, and sales and purchase records. Also keep completed copies of each employee’s I-9 for three years after they are hired. If the employee works longer than three years, hold on to the form for at least one year after the employee leaves.
For at least 2 years: Keep basic employment and earning records like timecards, wage-rate tables, shipping and billing records, and records of additions to or deductions from wages. Also keep the records that show why you may pay different wages to employees of different sexes, such as wage rates, job evaluations, seniority and merit systems, and collective bargaining agreements.
For at least 1 year: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says employers should keep all employment records for at least one year from the employee’s date of termination.
Other record-keeping laws that may apply to you:
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, you need to keep records of job-related injuries and illnesses for five years. But some records, like those covering toxic substance exposure, have to be kept for 30 years.
You must keep files of benefit plans and seniority and merit systems while they are in effect and for at least a year after they end. You must also retain summary descriptions and annual reports of benefits plans for six years.
If your company is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, you must also retain relevant records of leaves, notices, policies, and more for three years.
Additional laws that may apply to you.
Employers may not discharge or discriminate against an employee because the person in good faith opposed a violation of or participated in a proceeding under the Arkansas Civil Rights Act.
COBRA is a federal law that allows many employees to continue their health insurance benefits after their employment ends. Because federal COBRA only applies to employers that have 20 or more employees, many states have adopted their own versions of the law, which are known as “mini-COBRAs.”
Arkansas’s mini-COBRA allows employees to continue their coverage for up to 120 days. We recommend that employers inform an employee of their COBRA rights within five days of a triggering event.
Employers may test employees for drugs or alcohol. If their drug testing program meets specific requirements, they may be eligible for a discount under their workers’ compensation insurance policy.
Arkansas requires that employers conduct background checks on teachers and school personnel, auctioneers, bail bondsmen, professional counselors, psychologists, social workers, nurses, pharmacists, those who provide care for the elderly, those who provide care for disabled adults, owners and operators of childcare facilities, and those who work for certain service providers, including childcare facilities, home healthcare, hospice programs, long-term care facilities, and nonprofit community programs that provide developmental disabilities services.
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View the resources available to Arkansas business owners in our state-by-state COVID-19 Resource Center.
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This 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. If you need more compliance help, we recommend consulting with a qualified lawyer, checking with your local government agencies, or signing up for Homebase to get help from our certified HR Pros.