Significant changes in the law become effective on January 1, 2015
January 1, 2015 marks the end of the long-standing “companionship exemption” for agency-employed direct care workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Most importantly, the death of the exemption means that companions and live-in domestic workers who were previously deemed “exempt” from the overtime requirements of the FLSA will now be eligible for significantly higher wages, i.e., time and one-half of a worker’s regular rate of pay for all hours over 40 worked in a week. Conversely, this means that businesses employing such workers need to adjust their business models to ensure these workers are properly paid for all hours worked.
In adopting these new rules, the Department of Labor pulled no punches when it noted, “[T]he primary effect [of the changes] is the transfer of income from home care agencies. . . to direct care workers.”
Undoubtedly, the changes in the law will expose home care agencies to significant wage and hour liability unless they have prepared in advance to comply with the FLSA’s minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping requirements. Among other things, the changes in the law will require, among other things, the following:
- Overtime pay for all hours over 40 worked in a week;
- Payment for sleep time or other breaks unless the employee is completely relieved of all duties during these times
- Payment for meal periods when the employee is eating with and available to assist the employer’s customer
- Payment for off-duty time if the employee is considered “on call” on the employer’s premises so that the employee cannot use the time effectively for personal reasons
- Payment for travel time from one worksite to another during the day
In order to assist business which employ these workers to comply with these changes, Assouline & Berlowe, P.A., is hosting a FREE breakfast seminar on December 17, 2014 from 8:30-10:00 a.m. at Lakeside Terrace, 7800 Glades Road, in Boca Raton. During the seminar, the changes in the law will be outlined and a discussion had on what businesses need to do to become compliant with the FLSA’s requirements.
Ellen M. Leibovitch, a Florida Bar Board Certified Labor & Employment lawyer and head of the firm’s labor and employment practice, will explain to whom the new laws apply, how businesses will be impacted by the changes and recommendations of best practices for compliance. Assisting Ellen in the presentation will be Michael Seifert and Wendra Johnson, SPHR, of CBIZ Payroll, who will highlight the time, payroll and other records that employers need to retain in order to be compliant with the law as of January 1. Important to remember is that an employer’s failure to maintain proper records is, in itself, a violation of the FLSA.
If you are interested in learning more about the changes in the law applicable to businesses employing direct care workers (companions), please RSVP today and plan to attend this event. While attendance is FREE, you must be registered in advance to attend. Please send your response to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any questions, call 561-361-6566.
Florida Board Certified Labor and Employment Attorney
ASSOULINE & BERLOWE, P.A.
1801 N. Military Trail, Suite 160
Boca Raton, Florida 33431
Main: (561) 361-6566
Fax: (561) 361-6466
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