Homeward Bound: In-Home Workers Subject to New Legal Mandates

New State and Federal laws and regulations will change the landscape for domestic service workers and their employers as early as 2014.

California will implement the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights (see A.B. 241) in the new year. Effective January 1, 2014, private households that employ childcare providers, caregivers, house cleaners, housekeepers, and maids will be required to pay overtime for hours worked beyond nine hours per day and 45 hours per week. Casual babysitters and certain legally-designated relatives are not covered. The law will remain effective until January 1, 2017, which will allow time for the Governor establish a committee to assess the bill’s impact and efficacy.

On a related note, U.S. Department of Labor recently announced comprehensive regulatory guidance for domestic service workers. See Fact Sheets # 79-79F. Effective 2015, most third-party employers of domestic services workers will no longer be permitted to claim the domestic-services/companionship exemption from Federal overtime laws. There will be multiple exceptions depending on specific individual circumstances; e.g., certain “live-in” and direct-hire caretakers may still be exempt from overtime for certain hours.

Employers should carefully evaluate their scheduling and payroll policies and procedures as well as their insurance coverage to ensure they are prepared for the new laws. Employers that fail to comply may face a enforcement actions seeking unpaid wages, interest thereon, related penalties, and the employees’ attorneys’ fees and costs. Conversely, employees who are not properly compensated may seek unpaid wages, interest, and penalties from their employers. As such, domestic service employees must take care to learn their rights.

The Consumer and Employment Rights Group (CERG) of Minami Tamaki LLP is prepared to help employers and employees to prepare for these changes and invites employees to contact us if they wish to learn more about their rights and responsibilities.

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