The Nebraska Employment Law Guide

The state laws every business owner should know

Businesses must post all applicable state and federal labor law posters in the workplace.

Nebraska labor law posters to download

Federal labor law posters to download

Wages and Breaks

Minimum wage
$9

The minimum wage in Nebraska is currently $9.00.

Tipped min wage
$2.13

The minimum wage rate for tipped employees is $2.13.

Overtime
1.5X

Non-exempt employees must be paid an overtime rate of 1 ½ times the regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in one workweek.

The federal overtime rule stipulates that the minimum salary requirement for administrative, professional, and executive exemptions is $684 per week, or $35,568 per year.

Breaks
None

Most employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid breaks.

Federal law does not require employers to provide meal periods or breaks, but if they choose to do so, breaks lasting less than 20 minutes must be paid.

Meal periods do not need to be paid if employees are free to do as they wish.

Trade Breaks
30 min per 8 hrs

Nebraska labor laws only require employers to provide employees in assembling plants, mechanical establishments, and workshops a 30-minute lunch period in each shift of at least 8 hours.

Final paychecks

Employees who are terminated, who quit or who resign due to a labor dispute must be paid final wages by the next regularly scheduled payday or within 2 weeks, whichever comes first.

Child Labor

Minors 14 and 15 years of age

When school is in session, they may work a maximum of 3 hours a day on school days, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., and not during school hours.

When school is not in session, they may work a maximum of 8 hours a day, no more than 40 hours a week, and between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. from June 1 to Labor Day.

Minors 16 and 17 years of age

When school is in session, they may work a maximum of 8 hours a day, a maximum of 40 hours a week, and not during school hours.

When school is not in session, they may work a maximum of 8 hours a day and a maximum of 40 hours a week.

Leave Requirements

Sick days

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.

Family and medical leave

Employers may be required to provide an employee unpaid leave in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act or other federal laws.

Bereavement leave

Employers are not required to provide bereavement leave.

Vacation time

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 can set certain guidelines that employees must meet before they can accrue vacation leave.

Once employees earn vacation leave, they cannot be denied a payout for the leave upon separation from employment.

The amount of vacation leave accrued over time may be reasonably capped in the policy.

A “use-it-or-lose-it” policy requiring employees to use their leave by a certain time may not be established.

Holiday leave

Private employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid time off for holidays.

Jury Duty

Employers must pay employees for the time they take off from work to serve on a jury.

Voting time

Employees who do not have 2 hours while off work to vote are entitled to up to 2 hours paid leave to do so. As long as the employee gives notice in advance of election day, their pay cannot be deducted.

Military Leave

Employers must allow their employees who are members of the reserves or National Guard to take up to 120 hours of military leave each year. The leave must be paid.

Military Family Leave

Employers that have 15 or more employees must allow their employees to take family military leave.

To be eligible for the leave, an employee must meet the following criteria: They are the parent or spouse of a person being called to active duty for longer than 179 days, they have worked for the employer for at least 12 months before the leave begins, and they have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months before the leave begins.

An employer may require at least 14 days’ notice if an employee requests leave for longer than five days. While on leave, employees can continue to receive their health benefits at their own expense.

Employers that have between 15 and 50 employees must provide up to 15 days of leave.

Employers that have more than 50 employees must provide up to 30 days of leave.

Hiring, firing, and more

Discrimination

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.

Additionally, the state of Nebraska prohibits discrimination based on the following: AIDS/HIV, Marital status.

Click here to read our blog on what acceptable and unacceptable questions to ask during an interview.

Termination

Nebraska 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.

Record Keeping

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

Pay Practices

Employers may choose how often they pay their employees. However, the employer must set regular paydays and provide 30 days’ advance notice before changing their paydays. Except for exempt employees, employers must provide the following information with an employee’s wages: The employer’s name; Hours worked; Gross wages; Itemized deductions.

Background checks

Employers who run background checks should ensure they’re following the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which are available here.

Employers must conduct background checks on the following types of employees or applicants: Unlicensed direct care staff of an assisted living facility; Unlicensed direct care staff of an adult day service; Childcare center personnel, including residents of an in-home center and volunteers; Childcare agency personnel, including volunteers, who have contact with children; Foster or adoptive families.

Drug & Alcohol Testing

Employers that have six or more employees must comply with the following requirements if they want to discipline an employee because they failed a drug or alcohol test:

Confirm a positive drug test with a second test using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry or another testing method that has been approved by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Confirm a positive alcohol test with a second test using gas chromatography with a flame ionization detector, a breath test, or another testing method that has been approved by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Use a certified clinic or laboratory for testing (except for a breath test).

Keep all testing samples (other than for breath tests) refrigerated for possible retesting for at least 180 days.

Keep a record of the chain of custody of all testing samples (other than for breath tests) until the sample is no longer needed.

Keep the results of all tests confidential, except for the employee, other employees with a job-related need to know, or as otherwise required by law.

Whistleblower Protection

Employers that have at least 15 employees may not discharge or discriminate against an employee for opposing or refusing to participate in a violation of state or federal law.

COBRA

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.” Nebraska’s mini-COBRA allows employees to continue their coverage for up to 6 months. Employers must send an employee a notice of their COBRA rights by certified mail, return receipt requested, within 10 days of the employee’s last day of work.

The notice must contain all of the following information: The right to elect to continue coverage; The election form; The manner, time, and to whom the election form must be completed and returned; The amount of each monthly premium; The manner, time and to whom the premium must be paid.

Compliance Calendar

Get our Compliance Calendar to stay on top of deadlines throughout the year: View it on your computer. Click + Google Calendar in the lower right to add it to your Google Calendar and subscribe to all updates. You can also download a calendar (.ics) file that you can import into iCal or Outlook, or download a PDF to your computer.  

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 Remember

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. 

Additional Resources

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