DOL Recovers $28.6 Million in Back Wages and Penalties in LTC Settings
Posted on December 1, 2022 by Mark Schulz
The US Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division announced it had recovered more than $28.6 million in back wages and damages for nearly 25,000 workers since it launched a focused initiative in 2021. The effort has led to assessments of almost $1.3 million in civil monetary penalties for employers who willfully violated federal law. The most common violations discovered by investigators were failures to pay overtime or federal minimum wages and misclassifying employees as independent contractors.
Why is this important?
Eighty percent of recent investigations into nursing facilities, residential care centers, home health providers, and similar employers led to proven violations, the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division stated. The release noted that violations often hurt women of color, particularly in the Black, African American, Hispanic and Asian (including Filipina) communities, as they are often employed as home care aides, certified nursing aides, and licensed practical nurses.
What can I do?
To avoid stiff civil penalties, providers must ensure staff training is a priority and that legal counsel and human resources are engaged in the payroll process. She observed that most managers and staff schedulers responsible for employees’ timekeeping are not well-versed in wage and hour laws. Therefore, it is imperative that fundamental training is provided to these groups of people to ensure employees are appropriately paid.
Providers should make sure to conduct periodic wage and hour audits for compliance. Those audits should review how employees record time, especially in the current staffing environment, where many providers ask employees to pick up extra shifts.
Providers also need to ensure employees are correctly classified when it comes to being exempt versus non-exempt, as specific guidelines must be met.
Additionally, providers should pay close attention to employee meal-break policies. The DOL initiative focused on (scrutinized) automatic meal deduction policies.