Every state has a slightly different approach to employment law issues, and Arkansas is no exception. Here are a few questions that I am routinely asked by employers regarding the details of Arkansas employment law:
How often am I required to give my employees rest breaks or meal periods?
Breaks and meal periods are not required in Arkansas. The state only requires that you pay employees for the time they work, and it does not require the employer to provide breaks. Nonetheless, it's a very good idea for employers to give their employees some form of rest break or meal period, because they are, well, human. If you do not intend to pay the employee during the break, be sure that the break is more than 20 minutes and that the employee is completely relieved of duties. Eating lunch at a desk while working is not a lunch break and must be paid.
Do I have to give an employee a notice of termination or a copy of his or her personnel file?
No. Neither is required by state or federal law. Maintaining records regarding your reason for termination for two years is an excellent practice because you may be called on to explain your reasons for termination if an employee believes he or she has be discharged illegally.
Do I have to have a good reason to fire someone?
No, but.... Arkansas recognizes the at-will doctrine of employment, which allows an employer or an employee to end the employment relationship at any time for any legal reason. However, you cannot fire an employee for an illegal reason, for example, because of the employee's race, gender, national origin, religion, disability or age. If you fire an employee for an arbitrary reason, you might find yourself explaining that decision to the EEOC.
Can I withhold an employee's paycheck until he or she returns my equipment?
No. Arkansas law requires that an employer provide an employee's final pay at the next scheduled pay period, or within 7 days if the employee requests the payment. Don't mess around with paychecks!
Do I have to pay overtime if my employee works more than 8 hours in a day?
No. Arkansas only requires an employer to pay overtime when the work hours in a pay week exceed 40.