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Last updated on: April 27th, 2022

Hours & Pay Regulations

Normal Working Hours

For most employees, there is no limit on the number of hours unless there is an employment agreement or contract that says otherwise. Many employers give rest and meal breaks due to health and safety concerns. There are limits on the number of hours children under age 16 can work, and some contracts for employment contain limits.


The hours of two or more weeks may not be averaged. Under state law, a driver or a driver-salesperson for a private carrier, who is not for hire and is engaged exclusively in intrastate commerce, may drive 12 hours, be on duty 16 hours in a 24 hour period and be on duty 70 hours in seven consecutive days or 80 hours in eight days. The same limitations apply to for-hire drivers of trucks and truck-tractors who are engaged exclusively in intrastate commerce moving construction materials and equipment to and from construction projects.


Iowa has no general provision governing overtime pay, but most employees would be subject to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires that all nonexempt employees be paid at a rate of 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a week.


There are no general provisions for rest breaks. An employer must provide minors younger than age 16 who work for five hours or more each day a break of at least 30 minutes.


Iowa has no laws mandating meal breaks for adults. An employer does not have to pay you for a break during which you are completely relieved of your job duties. An employer can require an employee to stay on the business premises during the break.


Only the following breaks are required:

  • Minors younger than 16 must be given a 30-minute break if they are employed five hours or more in a day.
  • All employees must be allowed toilet breaks when needed.
  • A union contract may require breaks and those requirements are enforced by the union.
  • Truck drivers should contact the Iowa Department of Transportation for regulations regarding breaks.
  • Certain other limited categories of workers, such as airline pilots, may be entitled to mandatory breaks under applicable regulations.

Annual Leave

Employers must follow their own policies, practices or contracts regarding benefits. In the absence of such an agreement, annual leave benefits are not required.

Special Leave

Unpaid Leave
Employees may be eligible to take unpaid, job-protected, leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). Please refer to main United States page for further details on this Federal law.
Voting Leave

An employee who is eligible to vote in a public election in the state of Iowa may request time off from work with regular pay for a period not to exceed three hours for the purpose of voting.

Bone Marrow and Organ Donation Leave

Employees, excluding employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement that provides otherwise, shall be granted leave. An employee who is granted a leave of absence shall receive leave without loss of seniority, pay, vacation time, personal days, sick leave, insurance, and health coverage benefits, or earned overtime accumulation. The employee shall be compensated at the employee’s regular rate of pay for those regular work hours during which the employee is absent from work. An employee deemed to be on leave shall not be deemed to be an employee of the state for purposes of workers’ compensation or for purposes of the Iowa tort claims Act.

Domestic Violence Leave

Iowa Code § 915.23 allows the victim to serve as a witness in a criminal case; allows reasonable attorney fees and court costs if an employee sues for violation of this law and prevails.

Pregnancy Discrimination Leave

Employers with four or more regular employees must grant up to eight weeks of unpaid leave to an employee who is disabled by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical condition. Leave due to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical condition must be treated the same as leaves for other types of temporary disabilities. This includes written policy plans as well as written and unwritten employment practices involving leave running concurrently with other statutorily provided leave, ability to take leave intermittently, requiring the use of available paid leave, availability of extensions, reinstatement, and start and duration of the leave. Employees are required to provide the same notice to their employers as is required for other disability leaves, or “timely notice” if no other disability leave is available. Employers can require verification of the employee’s disability.

Elected Official Leave

Employers with 20 or more full-time employees must grant unpaid leave to any employee who is:

      • Elected to serve in a municipal, county, state or federal office (except where prohibited by federal law); or
      • A volunteer on a state government board, commission, committee, council or task force.

Leave must be granted without loss of seniority and benefits earned. An elected employee must submit a written application to his or her employer to notify the employer of the leave of absence.

Armed Forces Leave

Employers must grant unpaid leave to eligible employees who are called to active duty, for the duration of the active duty. Eligible employees include non-temporary employees who are members of the National Guard (of Iowa or of any other state), U.S. armed forces Reserves or Civil Air Patrol, including reserve or civil air patrol units of another state. Employees returning from active duty must be reinstated to a position of like seniority, status, and pay. In addition, any leave taken cannot affect the employee’s rights to vacation, sick leave, bonus or other employment benefits related to his or her employment. Employers may require documentation of the employee’s satisfactory completion of the active duty or service and that he or she is able to perform the duties of the position.

Witness and Juvenile Court Proceeding Leave

Employers must also allow unpaid leave to any employee serving as a witness in a criminal proceeding or as a plaintiff, defendant or witness in a civil proceeding. Employers may not discharge, threaten to or take adverse actions against employees taking leave to serve as a juror or witness.

Jury Duty Leave

Employers must provide employees with unpaid time off to respond to a jury duty notice, serve as a juror or attend court for prospective juror service. However, a salaried, exempt employee’s wages may not be reduced due to an absence related to jury service.

Disclaimer: The material provided above is for informational purposes only and is subject to change. We endeavor to keep all material up-to-date and correct but make no representations about the information's completeness, accuracy, or reliability. Laws vary by jurisdiction and are subject to change and interpretation based on individual factors that may differ between organizations. The material is not meant to constitute legal advice and we suggest you seek the advice of legal counsel in connection with any of the information presented.