For six seasons, fans of the NBC hit drama This is Us tuned in each week to watch the Pearson Family saga unfold and to have a collective soul cleansing cry. This is Us delicately weaved in and out of multiple time periods to tell the heartwarming story of Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca Pearson (Mandy Moore) and their children, Kevin (Justin Hartley), Kate (Chrissy Metz), and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) (collectively, “the Big Three”).

Beginning in season three, the show began incorporating flash forwards that revealed the Pearson family gathered to say their final goodbyes to a mysterious woman referred only to as “her.” For the next few seasons, This is Us slowly unraveled the mystery surrounding why the family was gathered and explained the presence or absence of each family member. Ultimately, viewers learned that Rebecca was “her.” In the process, the writers revealed that the beloved Rebecca was suffering from dementia. During the fifth and sixth seasons, viewers watched Rebecca slowly deteriorate until she was no longer recognizable as the enviable wife and mother that everyone loved fiercely. Instead, in a cruel twist of fate, her memory and her sense of independence faded from her grasp more and more with each passing day.

In the final season, Rebecca’s illness began to take a noticeable toll on her primary caregiver, her second husband, Miguel Rivas (Jon Huertas), who just so happened to be her first husband Jack’s best friend. Eventually, Miguel’s own aging and neglect of his own health led the Big Three to stage a family meeting where they all agreed that their mother’s care has grown beyond the limitations of what Miguel could provide alone. They decide to hire a full-time caregiver. Unfortunately, this solution has to be reconsidered when Miguel sadly passes away. Miguel’s death leads the siblings to fight over who is in the best position to take over their mother’s care. Kevin, the wealthy Hollywood star ultimately won the battle and decided to move his family to the house that he built for his mother.

While many critics criticize This is Us for its over-the-top dramatics and what they deem to be “emotional manipulation,” true fans admire the beautiful storytelling, masterful acting, and universality of emotion that it invokes. It is doubtful that the average American has to decide whether the movie star sibling, the United States Senator sibling, or the sibling singlehandedly revolutionizing the educational system for visually impaired children will be the one to take on the task of caring for a loved one with ailing health. Instead, the average employee is often faced with how to maintain their jobs and fulfill their obligations to their families in their time of need.

When faced with an employee who needs to take time off work to care for a family member with a serious health condition, employers should know that the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) provides certain job protections. It is important that employers know a few crucial basics about the FMLA.

Employers must provide eligible employees FMLA leave if they have 50 or more employees on the payroll for 20 or more calendar workweeks in either the current or preceding calendar year. Eligible employees are entitled to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period. To be eligible for FMLA, the employee must have worked for the employer for 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of leave.

Employees may take leave to provide physical and/or psychological care for a covered family member with a serious health condition. Covered family members include:

  • Spouses
  • Children
  • Parents (including those who assumed the position of parent when the employee was a child)
  • A child for whom the employee assumes the position of parent

Employees may take FMLA in one large chunk of time, intermittently in blocks of time, or on a reduced schedule.

When in doubt, always make sure to ask a trusted employment attorney how to navigate employee FMLA questions.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, but the FLSA does not supersede any state or local laws that are more favorable to employees. Therefore, if a state or municipality has a minimum wage that is higher than the federal minimum, employers subject to the state or local minimum wage law are obligated to pay the higher rate to employees working there. The minimum wage for federal contractors in 2022 is $11.25 per hour.

The map below shows the states that are increasing their minimum wages, including the new rates and amounts of the increases as of the date of publication of this article. We also provide a listing of the states increasing their minimum wages and the effective dates of the changes below the map.

  • Future increases for the entire state will be annual, increasing up to $15.00.

State Minimum Wage Changes Effective December 31, 2021

New York state: $13.20 per hour. Annual indexing to continue increasing up to $15.00.

•Fast food employees (in fast food establishments): $15.00 per hour.

•New York City, Long Island, and Westchester counties: $15.00 per hour and annual indexing.

State Minimum Wage Changes Effective January 1, 2022

Arizona: $12.80 per hour. Adjusted annually on January 1.

California: $15.00 per hour with 26 employees or more; $14.00 per hour with fewer than 26 employees. Scheduled wage increases for 25 employees or fewer: $15.00 on 1/1/23 and then adjusted annually.

Colorado: $12.56 per hour. Adjusted annually on January 1.

Delaware: $10.50 per hour. Increasing to $11.75 on 1/1/23; $13.25 on 1/1/24; and $15.00 on 1/1/25.

Illinois: $12.00 per hour. Increasing to $13.00 on 1/1/23; $14.00 on 1/1/24; and $15.00 on 1/1/25.

Maine: $12.75 per hour. Adjusted annually on January 1.

Maryland: $12.50 for businesses with 15 or more employees and $12.20 for businesses with fewer than 15 employees.

•For businesses with 15 or more employees, the rate will increase to $13.25 on 1/1/23; $14.00 on 1/1/24; and $15.00 on 1/1/25.

•For businesses with fewer than 15 employees, the rate will increase to $12.80 on 1/1/23; $13.40 on 1/1/24; $14.00 on 1/1/25; $14.60 on 1/1/26; and $15.00 on 7/1/26.

Massachusetts: $14.25 per hour. Increasing to $15.00 on 1/1/23.

Minnesota: $10.33 per hour for large employers (annual gross revenue of $500,000 or more) and $8.42 per hour for small employers (annual gross revenue of less than $500,000). Adjusted annually on January 1.

Missouri: $11.15 per hour. Increasing to $12.00 on 1/1/23. Adjusted annually on January 1.

Montana: $9.20 per hour. Adjusted annually on January 1.

New Jersey: $13.00 per hour for employers with more than 5 employees; $11.90 per hour for seasonal employers and/or small employers with 5 or fewer workers; and $10.90 per hour for agricultural employers.

•For employers with more than 5 employees, the rate will increase to $14.00 on 1/1/23.

•For seasonal and small employers, the rate will increase to $12.70 on 1/1/23.

•For agricultural employers, the rate will increase to $11.70 on 1/1/23.

•Adjusted annually on January 1.

New Mexico: $11.50 per hour. Increasing to $12.00 on 1/1/23.

Ohio: $9.30 per hour for gross receipts of $342,000 or more; $7.25 per hour for gross receipts under $342,000. Adjusted annually on January 1.

Rhode Island: $12.25 per hour. Increasing to $13.00 on 1/1/23; $14.00 on 1/1/24; and $15.00 on 1/1/25.

South Dakota: $9.95 per hour. Adjusted annually on January 1.

Vermont: $12.55 per hour. Adjusted annually on January 1.

Virginia: $11.00 per hour. Increasing to $12.00 on 1/1/23.

Washington: $14.49 per hour. Adjusted annually on January 1.

State Minimum Wage Changes Going into Effect After January 1, 2022

Connecticut: $13.00 per hour, effective 8/1/21. Increasing to $14.00 on 7/1/22; $15.00 on 6/1/23; and then adjusted annually on January 1.

Florida: $10.00 per hour. Increasing to $11.00 on 9/30/22; $12.00 on 9/30/23; $13.00 on 9/30/24; $14.00 on 9/30/25; and $15.00 on 9/30/26.

Nevada: $10.50 per hour for employees without healthcare benefits; $9.50 per hour for employees with healthcare benefits. Effective on 7/1/22.

Oregon: An employer’s location affects the minimum wage rate:

•Within Portland’s urban growth boundary (metro area, including portions of Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties): $14.75 per hour, effective on 7/1/22.

•Areas not in Portland’s urban growth boundary or one of the listed nonurban counties (urban counties, Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Deschutes, Hood River, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Wasco, Washington, and Yamhill counties): $13.50 per hour, effective on 7/1/22.

•The nonurban counties (rural counties, Baker, Coos, Crook, Curry, Douglas, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Klamath, Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, and Wheeler counties): $12.50per hour, effective on 7/1/22.

Minimum Wage Basics

The federal FLSA requires that a minimum wage be paid for all hours an employee is “suffered or permitted” to work for the employer (29 U.S.C. §203(g)) and that an overtime wage be paid for all hours “worked” over 40 in a week. The FLSA does not specifically define “hours worked” or place a limit on the number of hours an employee may work; it requires only that overtime be paid for any hours worked over 40.

Determining exactly what constitutes hours worked is essential in determining an employee’s compensation and compliance with both minimum wage and overtime requirements of the act.

Hours worked includes time during which an employee is “necessarily required to be on the employer’s premises, on duty or at a prescribed work place” (29 C.F.R. §785.7). This broad definition of hours worked may require that an employee be compensated for time the employer does not otherwise consider working time, such as travel time; waiting time; certain meal, rest, and sleep periods; and time the employee is required to spend in training, at seminars, or in meetings.

The courts and the U.S. Department of Labor, however, have developed a de minimis rule whereby employers may disregard insubstantial or insignificant periods of time beyond the scheduled working hours if, as a practical administrative matter, such time cannot be precisely recorded.

If employees are checking e-mails for 2 or 3 minutes, employers will likely not have to pay for this time. But if employees are spending 10 to 15 minutes after work hours, employers will have to pay employees for this work time. Also, the FLSA explicitly permits the rounding of an employee’s start and stop times.

Hours worked for purposes of the FLSA does not include time spent on call, time spent waiting to work, or time when an employee is required to carry a pager or cellphone, provided the employee is otherwise free to effectively use the time for his or her own personal purposes. The FLSA does not obligate employers to pay employees for holidays, vacation, or sick days.

The rules are strict, but the penalties are stricter. Paying employees properly now will help you avoid expensive fines, claims, and lawsuits down the line.