By Stephanie Breedlove, Breedlove & Associates
In some of the discussions about the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights I’ve been hearing around the country, there has been a fairly common interpretation that domestic workers are not currently entitled to overtime pay. I wanted to use this column to clear up any confusion.
Nannies are entitled to overtime pay – and have been since the 1930’s.
Federal law declares that nannies are “non-exempt” workers. That’s a fancy way of saying you fall into a protected class of worker in the eyes of the law. As such, you are entitled to compensation for every hour worked. Additionally, non-exempt employees who work more than 40 hours in a 7-day work week are entitled to overtime pay for all hours over 40. The overtime rate must be at least 1.5 times the regular rate of pay. (Note: Live-in nannies are exempt from overtime in most states, but they still must be paid for each hour worked).
So let’s say you normally work 35 hours per week and earn $12 per hour for a total of $420 per week. If one week you work 45 hours, your pay would be $12 per hour for your first 40 hours and $18 per hour ($12/hour X 1.5 = $18/hour) for the 5 hours of overtime. Your total pay for that week would be $570 (40 x $12/hour + 5 x $18/hour).
Notice I’m using hourly rates here. Not only is it easier to keep track of pay this way, there’s also a legal reason for doing so. Non-exempt workers are supposed to be paid on an hourly basis. There’s no such thing as a “fixed salary” for non-exempt workers. Your boss may be on a fixed salary, but it’s because he or she falls into a different worker category – “exempt” – that doesn’t have wage protections.
The bottom line is your family can guarantee you a certain number of hours and help make sure your pay is predictable. But, it is not permissible to pay a fixed sum of money and then work you an unlimited number of hours. The Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights legislation is helping bring awareness to this form of employee abuse in many states, but it’s important to know that these kinds of basic wage protections already exist under federal law.
If you have any questions about overtime, please visit www.breedlove.com or feel free to give our office a call. We’re here to help!