Official State of Iowa Website

Pay for Your Work

Many laws exist that cover worker pay. The information below breaks down the basics but does not cover all the details and exceptions. Once you understand the basics, make sure you check for additional details based on your own circumstances, and consider contacting a lawyer with legal questions.

Keep in mind that federal and state laws set the minimum standards. You may have an agreement with your employer (either directly or through a union) where your employer has agreed to pay you more. Icon of a dollar bill

What types of laws apply?

What is the minimum wage in Iowa?

Does my employer have to pay me overtime?

What deductions can my employer make from my pay?

What can I do if I believe my employer hasn't paid me what I'm owed? 

What types of laws apply? (back to top)

Federal law

A major federal law relating to worker pay is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 United States Code chapter 8. This act covers a variety of topics, including minimum wage, overtime, and child labor. The U.S. Department of Labor provides a helpful guide to the FLSA on their website.

Many of the federal regulations on pay for work are located at 29 C.F.R. chapter V.

For more information on the specific types of workers covered by the FLSA, visit the U.S. Department of Labor Fair Labor Standards Act Advisor.

State law

Iowa also has laws relating to minimum wage and wage payment, including Iowa Code chapter 91A and section 91D.1. Many Iowa regulations relating to worker pay are located in the Labor Services Division section of the Iowa Administrative Code.

What is the minimum wage in Iowa? (back to top)

Both the federal government and Iowa set a minimum wage. In Iowa, the federal minimum wage and the state minimum wage are the same: $7.25 per hour.

The minimum wage law applies to businesses in certain sectors, making a certain amount of money, or engaged in certain types of business. While many employers are required to pay minimum wage, exceptions exist, both based on employer and the type of job.

The federal law that establishes the minimum wage is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA also covers overtime. The Department of Labor discusses common exceptions to the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the FLSA here.

Iowa’s minimum wage law is located at Iowa Code section 91D.1. Detailed Iowa regulations on minimum wage are located at chapter 215 of the Labor Services regulations.

What if I’m a server or other worker who receives tips?

In Iowa, if you would otherwise be entitled to the minimum wage, but you receive more than $30 per month in tips, your employer can pay you no less than $4.35 per hour in wages. You must still receive at least $7.25 per hour, though, based on the combination of wages and tips over the course of any given week.

Example:

Javier’s and Gina’s employer relies on the tipped employee exception to the minimum wage law, paying them $4.35 per hour in wages. This week, they each worked 20 hours.

  • Javier received $75 in tips this week. Javier’s wages and tips for the week come to $8.10 per hour, so the employer does not have to provide Javier with additional wages beyond the $4.35 already provided.
  • Gina received $50 in tips this week. Gina’s wages and tips for the week come to only $6.85 per hour. Since this is below the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, the employer will need to supplement her wage for the week so that she makes $7.25 per hour.

The Department of Labor provides more detailed information on tipped employees here.

Does my employer have to pay me overtime? (back to top)

Federal law requires overtime pay of at least one and one-half times a covered, non-exempt employee’s regular rate of pay after 40 hours of work in a workweek. Iowa does not have additional overtime laws.

A workweek is a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours, or seven 24-hour periods in a row. It may begin on any day of the week and at any hour of the day. Each workweek stands alone; averaging hours worked over two or more workweeks is not allowed by the FLSA.

Hours work include both hours the employer has requested the employee to work, and work the employer knows or has reason to know the employee is performing. Simply making a rule that employees cannot work outside of regular working hours is not enough: management has to enforce the rule. Still, it is best to ask your employer before working overtime.

For some people, the “regular rate of pay” used to calculate overtime pay is more than just hourly wages.

  • The Department of Labor’s Overtime Calculator provides additional information on regular rate of pay.

For more information overtime, see the Fair Labor Standards Act Advisor from the U.S. Department of Labor

Can state and local government employers give compensatory time off instead of overtime pay?

State and local government employers can provide compensatory time off instead of overtime pay under certain circumstances. State and local governments can provide compensatory time only if:

  1. there's an agreement or understanding before the overtime work that the employee will receive compensatory time instead of overtime pay, and
  2. the employee hasn't accrued (earned but not used) more compensatory time than the limit (480 hours for public safety, emergency response, or seasonal work; 240 hours for other work)

For every hour of overtime worked, the employee must be given one and one-half hours of compensatory time. For example, an employee who works 2 hours of overtime should get 3 hours of compensatory time.  

For more information, read the federal regulations on compensatory time given by state and local government employers or visit the FLSA Overtime Calculator Advisor section on State and Local Government Employees.  

What deductions can my employer make from my pay? (back to top)

Your employer can only deduct certain items from your wages. Iowa Code section 91A.5 provides a list of items an employer cannot deduct from your wages.

The FLSA also limits the types of deductions employers can make from workers' pay. For more information on deductions under the FLSA, visit:

What can I do if I think my employer hasn't paid me what I'm owed? (back to top)

If you believe your employer hasn't paid you what you're owed for your work, one option is to file a wage claim. You can also contact a lawyer to discuss additional recovery options. More information about how to find a lawyer, including free and low-cost options, is available on the Finding a Lawyer page.

Information on filing a wage claim with the state of Iowa is available from the Iowa Division of Labor here.

Information on filing a wage claim with the U.S. Wage and Hour Division is available here.

  • The U.S. Wage and Hour Division website includes a helpful FAQ section on the types of complaints they do and don’t cover, as well as the timeline and process for a complaint.

Iowa Legal Aid provides additional information on their website about collecting wages owed to you.

The U.S. Wage and Hour Division also sometimes recovers unpaid wages on behalf of employees. For more information on this program, please visit WHD’s Workers Owed Wages page.


Ask a Law Librarian

The Iowa Division of Labor provides a helpful Wage and Hours FAQ on their website.

FAQ

The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division provides a helpful Fair Labor Standards Act FAQ on their website.

FAQ

Related Pages

Work Law 

Breaks for Workers

Discrimination

Retaliation

Unions and Worker Collective Action

The information in the People's Law Library is for informational purposes only. Nothing on this website is legal advice. The law is complicated and many aspects of the law change regularly. Consider reaching out to a lawyer. More information about how to find a lawyer, including free and low-cost options, is available on the Finding a Lawyer page.