United States

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Country Snapshot

The GPS Country Snapshot includes 25 sections of information about labor law compliance in United States. See a sample of popular sections below.

Termination of Employment

The law of the United States does not expressly address notification procedures for the dismissal of a worker whose employment is governed by a contract.

Generally, workers in the United States do not have contracts and are employed at-will. However, if an employment contract does exist, the parties can bargain for terms in a contract to govern notification procedures.

Some exceptions to the lack of regulation of employer notice periods do exist, however. In 1988, the U.S. Congress passed the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. The WARN Act ensures workers have sufficient time to prepare for a transition from their current job to a new job by requiring advance notice in cases of qualified plant closings and mass layoffs. Generally, a WARN Act notice requirement exists when a business with 100 or more full-time workers (excluding workers with less than six months on the job and those who work less than 20 hours per week) is in the process of laying off at least 50 people at a single employment site.

Work Permits

Many foreign nationals want to come to the United States to work. Foreign nationals can obtain a work permit as an immigrant or as a nonimmigrant.

A common way to work temporarily in the United States as a nonimmigrant is for a prospective employer to file a petition with USCIS on the foreign national's behalf. There are several nonimmigrant, temporary worker classifications.

Foreign nationals with the right combination of skills, education, and/or work experience may be able to live and work permanently in the United States by seeking an employment-based immigrant visa. There are five employment-based immigrant visa preferences (also called categories).

Foreign nationals must apply for a visa from the U.S. Department of State (DOS) unless a visa is not required for people from their country of nationality.

In many cases, USCIS must approve the foreign national's petition before they can apply to DOS for a visa or seek admission at a port of entry. Before entering the United States, the foreign national must present themselves to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer and receive permission to enter the United States and engage in their proposed activity.

Paid Annual Leave

The federal law of the United States is unique in its lack of provision of cash benefits for women during maternity leave.

In the absence of federal legislation on paid maternity leave, several states have enacted to provide new parents pay. The following states and territories have implemented or are in the process of implementing a family leave insurance program:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Hawaii
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington state
  • Wisconsin

The benefit formula and eligibility criteria vary in each state.

U.S. workers also generally have the right to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA only applies to employees who have worked at least 12 months at a company with at least 50 employees. All states and territories fall under the federal FMLA.

Working Hours

According to the U.S. Wage and Hour Division (WDH), hours worked ordinarily include all the time during which an employee is required to be on the employer's premises, on duty, or at a prescribed workplace. The law of the United States indicates that the standard workweek is 40 hours. Generally, employees working more than 40 hours per week are eligible for overtime. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) contains the federal overtime provisions. There is no limit in the Act on the number of hours employees aged 16 and older may work in any workweek. The Internal Revenue Service defines a "full-time employee" as an employee working an average of at least 30 hours per week or 130 hours per month in a given calendar month.

Maternity Leave

The federal law of the United States is unique in its lack of provision of cash benefits for women during maternity leave.

In the absence of federal legislation on paid maternity leave, several states have enacted to provide new parents pay. The following states and territories have implemented or are in the process of implementing a family leave insurance program:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Hawaii
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington state
  • Wisconsin

The benefit formula and eligibility criteria vary in each state.

U.S. workers also generally have the right to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA only applies to employees who have worked at least 12 months at a company with at least 50 employees. All states and territories fall under the federal FMLA.

Minimum Wage

The federal minimum wage of the United States is USD 7.25 (US dollars) per hour, effective July 24, 2009. The federal minimum wage for employees who receive tips is USD 2.13.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), non-exempt employees of federal contractors must be paid a minimum wage of USD 15.00 (effective January 30, 2022).

Country Profile

The GPS Country Profile contains detailed information on over 60 topics related to labor law compliance within United States.
  • Type of Employment Relationship
  • Permanent Employment
  • Fixed-Term or Specific-Purpose Contracts
  • Temporary Employment Contracts
  • Part-time Employment
  • Young Worker Employment
  • Vendors and Independent Contractors
  • Types of Contracts
  • Probationary Period
  • Termination of the Contract of Employment
  • Grounds for Termination
  • Notice of Dismissal
  • Fair Dismissal
  • Redundancy
  • Unfair Dismissal
  • Suspension of Contract of Employment
  • Severance Benefits
  • Hours of Work
  • Work Week and Timekeeping
  • Night Work and Shift Work
  • Overtime
  • Remote Work
  • Required Time Off
  • Public Holidays
  • Annual Leave
  • Sick Leave
  • Maternity
  • Other Forms of Leave
  • Social Insurance and Retirement
  • Social Security Contribution
  • National Retirement Scheme
  • Dependents’/Survivors Benefit
  • Life and Disability Insurance/Benefit
  • Statutory Allowances
  • Compensation and Benefits
  • Minimum Wage (Basic Wage)
  • Bonuses, Profit Sharing and Other Compensation
  • Medical Insurance
  • Work Environment
  • Workplace Safety and Health
  • Prohibition of Discrimination
  • Prohibition of Harassment
  • Data Protection and Privacy
  • Whistleblowers and Retaliation
  • Workers’ representation in the organization
  • Freedom of Association
  • Registration and Recognition of Unions
  • Trade Union Personality
  • Collective Bargaining and Agreements
  • Disputes and Settlements
  • Strikes and Lockouts
  • Unfair Labor Practices
  • Taxation of Compensation and Benefits
  • Income Tax
  • Taxation of Employee Benefits
  • Tax Filing and Payment Procedures
  • Double Tax Relief and Tax Treaties
  • Visas and Work Permits
  • Visas
  • Work Permits and Residence Permits

 Country Snapshot

Get the full Country Snapshot with 25 sections of information about labor law in United States.