Are you an employer that employees one or more household employees? New laws require that employers providing wages to their employees now have the burden of proof, showing that they have paid the workers fairly and that they employees were not short changed out of the pay that they were due.
This shift of the burden of proof from the employee to the employer has huge implications in household employment. Household employment is in the midst of the perfect storm- with misclassification enforcement efforts at the federal and state levels, domestic worker rights organizers educating nannies, housekeepers and senior home caregivers about their labor law rights, and wage theft protection initiatives at the federal, state and city levels. MoveOn.org currently has 21 active petitions to enforce wage theft legislation at state and local levels.
Employers that short change their employees by not paying for all hours on duty or failing to pay overtime can be charged with wage theft. In order to prove that they were not withholding wages due, the employer will need to show contemporaneous time tracking records and hourly payroll calculations. Wage theft is so common that there are billions of dollars withheld from employees every year. Studies have shown that for low-wage industries especially, that 60% of workers have not been paid fairly and are victims of wage violations. (1)
How do you know that you’re paying your employees correctly?
Household employees are required to be paid on an hourly rate basis. In a dispute, a "salary" will be interpreted as weekly pay for 40 hours. The hourly rate will be the salary divided by 40, and overtime will be considered unpaid and due. Unpaid wage claims are subject to liquidated damages. This means that the employer pays double the amount of "unpaid wages" plus costs.
How can you stay protected?
The only protection you have is with a written compensation agreement and tracking of hours worked and compensated for. The compensation agreement needs to state the hourly rate as well as the overtime rate. In addition, be sure to keep detailed weekly time tracking records. HWS' Household Employee Pay Rate Notice is a valuable tool to memorialize the compensation agreement, and both parties should have a signed copy. The more detailed records you keep, the better covered you are in the event of a dispute or other incident that requires wage documentation.
If you fail to include the necessary wage information in the event of a dispute or if you have deliberately withheld wages from an employee, it can be a very costly mistake and will be considered a crime. In order to prevent this from happening, work together with a household payroll specialist in order to help you stay organized and answer questions that you may be confused about. This can help you avoid expensive errors and will help you better understand how the employer payroll process functions.
- “Connecticut Wage Theft Law Shifts Burden of Proof from Employees to Employers.” AllGov. July 7, 2015. Accessed August 22, 2015. http://www.allgov.com/news/where-is-the-money-going/connecticut-wage-theft-law-shifts-burden-of-proof-from-employees-to-employers-150707?news=856902