Reminder: New Federal Overtime Rule Effective December 1

Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay Exemption Salary Thresholds Raised for Many Employees

Effective December 1, a new rule updates the regulations governing which executive, administrative, professional, and highly compensated employees are entitled to the minimum wage and overtime pay protections of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Current Rules
The current federal rules provide an exemption from both the minimum wage and overtime pay requirements of the FLSA for bona fide executive, administrative, and professional employees who meet certain tests regarding their job duties and who are paid on a salary basis at not less than $455 per week ($23,660 per year). “Highly compensated employees” (HCEs) who are paid total annual compensation of $100,000 or more and meet certain other conditions are also deemed exempt.

New Rule
The new rule updates the salary and compensation levels needed for executive, administrative, professional, and highly compensated employees to be exempt. In particular, the final rule:

  • Raises the salary threshold from $455 a week to $913 per week (or $47,476 annually) for a full-year worker;
  • Increases the HCE total annual compensation level to $134,004 annually;
  • Amends the regulations to allow employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses, incentives, and commissions to satisfy up to 10% of the new standard salary level, so long as employers pay those amounts on a quarterly or more frequent basis; and
  • Establishes a mechanism for automatically updating the salary and compensation levels every 3 years, beginning on January 1, 2020.

Note: When both the FLSA and a state law apply, the employee is entitled to the most favorable provisions of each law.

ORIGINALLY POSTED BY HR360.COM

Court Rules Minimum Wage and Overtime Protection Reinstated for Marginalized Home Care Workers

A federal appeals court on Friday reinstated Obama administration labor protections for home health-care workers, paving the way for minimum wage and overtime benefits to be paid to the nation’s two million workers who provide in-home care for the elderly and people with disabilities.

Home health-care workers are disproportionately women (more than 90 percent), people of color (more than half), and immigrants (one in four). One in five are single mothers.

These workers often make poverty-level wages for difficult work under stressful conditions, and for 40 years they have been classified by the Labor Department in such a way that they can’t qualify to make minimum wage or receive overtime pay.

“This ruling is a resounding victory for home health-care workers employed by agencies,” said Lenora Lapidus, director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. “These are among the poorest workers in the United States and have been historically excluded from federal labor protections.”

Writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, Judge Sri Srinivasan cited a “dramatic transformation” of the home care industry over the past four decades as a valid reason for the change. While most caregivers used to be directly employed by individual households, the vast majority of workers now work for staffing companies that service hundreds or thousands of customers, Srinivasan said.

He also noted a massive shift to providing care for the elderly in their own homes rather than in nursing homes, which requires workers to offer more advanced medical care and assistance to clients than the mere “companionship” services envisioned in 1974. The new regulation, which was upheld by a three-judge panel after being stymied by a district court ruling late last year, closes this loophole in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that exempted “companionship” workers from overtime or minimum wage requirements.

This loophole reflected an outdated view of home care workers as informal “sitters” for elderly or disabled people, advocates say. The loophole also ignored the reality of what home care work entails (feeding, bathing, rehabilitating, managing medications, and more) and how large the $84 billion home care industry is.

Home care work is among the nation’s fastest-growing occupations, but it has a 50 percent turnover rate partly due to low pay, long and unpredictable hours, and physical and emotional stress from the work itself.

“High demand makes home care one of our nation’s fastest-growing occupations—but finding skilled, committed workers for caregiving jobs is becoming increasingly difficult,” Deane Beebe, media relations director for the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), said in a statement. “Today’s decision is a first step to addressing this labor shortage.”

Even when home care workers technically make the minimum wage, they may effectively make less because they don’t get compensated for travel or overtime, and they often can’t get enough hours to make ends meet. Three out of five home care workers rely on public assistance.

The regulation expands protections to workers serving private households and hired by “third party” employers, which describes the vast majority of home care workers today.

Home health care industry officials are reportedly still considering their options, including whether to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, as BuzzFeed News notes, implementation will be the next challenge once the rule goes into effect. Wage theft is rampant even in industries that have wage and overtime protections. And there are still certain classes of workers who don’t enjoy those basic legal protections, including many agricultural and domestic workers as well as employees of small businesses with annual gross sales of less than $500,000.

Source: RHrealitycheck.org

Labor Commissioner Cites Grocery Chain El Super More Than $180,000 for Wage Theft Violations

El Super

Los Angeles—California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su this week cited Paramount-based El Super grocery store chain for multiple wage theft violations, with assessments and penalties totaling $180,668. The chain of 43 markets is owned and operated by Bodega Latin, Inc., with 15 locations in Los Angeles.

The investigation revealed that El Super denied rest and meal periods, and failed to pay overtime wages for 20 workers at 10 of El Super’s Los Angeles markets.

“California labor laws are clear regarding rest periods and overtime requirements. Employees must be compensated for the hours they work and the benefits they earn,” said Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). The Labor Commissioner’s Office is a division of DIR.

Investigators gathered evidence using payroll records audits and worker interviews. The evidence indicated rest and meal period violations as well as overtime premiums owed between June 17, 2012 and June 6, 2015 for all of the workers interviewed. Some employees worked an average of 55 hours per week but were paid for only 40 hours without overtime. Workers were forced to clock out for meal breaks but ordered to return to work without taking their full meal period. In some cases, workers were not allowed to take rest breaks.

Bodega Latin, Inc. was assessed $3,557 in minimum wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages, $44,463 in overtime wages, $93,228 in rest period premiums, $19,903 in meal period premiums, $8,161 in waiting time penalties and $7,800 in rest period penalties.  Bodega must also reimburse its staff at the 10 locations $101,084 for illegal uniform deductions documented during the audit.

“This citation is an expensive reminder to employers who are depriving workers of their hard-earned wages,” said Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su.

Many of the wage violations were documented in off-site interviews with the El Super workers.

“Workers often do not know their rights and fear losing their jobs for complaining about wage theft,” said Su.  “It is important that workers exercise their labor rights by contacting us if they have been victimized by wage theft – and we can help workers to feel safe by offering off-site interviews where they can speak without their employer watching.”

The Labor Commissioner’s Office, formally known as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, inspects workplaces for wage and hour violations, adjudicates wage claims, enforces prevailing wage rates and apprenticeship standards in public works projects, investigates retaliation and whistleblower complaints, issues licenses and registrations for businesses, and educates the public on labor laws. Updated information on California labor laws is available online.

The Wage Theft is a Crime public awareness campaign, launched last year by DIR and its Labor Commissioner’s Office, has helped inform workers of their rights. The campaign includes multilingual print and outdoor advertising as well as radio commercials on ethnic stations in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Hmong and Tagalog.

Employees with work-related questions or complaints may contact DIR’s Call Center in English or Spanish at 844-LABOR-DIR (844-522-6734). The California Workers’ Information line at 866-924-9757 also offers recorded information in English and Spanish on a variety of work-related topics.

Members of the press may contact Erika Monterroza or Peter Melton at (510) 286-1161 for additional details.

CA DIR News Release No.: 2015-61                                      Date: July 3, 2015