by Sue M. Bendavid
February 19, 2013
Three California district offices of the United States Department of Labor are investigating employers of residential care facilities. Initial results from the investigations indicate approximately 200 employees may be due more than $800K from residential care employers.
The investigations began in Sacramento in October, but expanded to include facilities in San Francisco and West Covina.
The Department of Labor says there are significant concerns, including:
- Failure to count all hours of work time
- Interrupted personal time
- Interrupted sleep
- Interrupted meals
- Failure to compensate for training
- Failure to pay for pre and post shift duties, and
- Failure to pay overtime wages
How Should Employers Avoid Wage and Hour Claims?
The state minimum wage in California and Los Angeles remains $8/hour, though certain cities within the state mandate higher rates. Under federal law (the FLSA) nonexempt employees who work more than 40 hours per week must receive overtime pay. The state has daily overtime rules (for employees who work more than 8 hours in a day).
When training or seminars occur outside of an employee's regularly scheduled time, you'll need to compensate for attendance at those sessions with limited exception.
Under California law, you need to provide 30 minute duty-free, uninterrupted meal breaks, and cannot ask employees to perform duties during these breaks. In the case of a resident care facility where the residents often interrupt your employee with requests for assistance, you'll need to pay the employee for the time worked and also consider whether a meal period penalty is required.
Some employees work overtime by necessity, even though the time is not authorized by you the employer. You'll need to compensate for this time, known as work suffered or permitted. This overtime work usually occurs when a facility is short-staffed, or when employees choose to take work home rather than stay on the premises after their regular work schedule.
California's Industrial Welfare Commission instituted a series of Wage Orders to protect employees in 17 industry groups. As an employer, it's important for you to know which wage order governs your business. Residential care workers are generally covered under Wage Order #5, but if you have questions about California employment law or the wage orders that affect your employees, feel free to contact me.