Labor Department Looks at Health Care Industry Pay Law Compliance
The Department of Labor has hired 250 new "wage-and-hour investigators" to investigate health care industry pay practices, after discovering that many companies do not properly pay employees according to federal overtime law, the New York Times reports.
Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, employers typically are required to compensate an employee at least $7.25 hourly -- the federal minimum wage -- and 150% of their regular pay rates for overtime.
Federal officials in multiple states are examining cases involving assisted-living and group homes, hospitals and residential health care facilities where hourly employees were not compensated for work executed before or after their scheduled shifts or during meal breaks.
The Labor Department in other cases found that some home care agencies do not pay employees for travel time between patients' homes. The Labor Department already has recovered several millions of dollars in back wages for employees who were improperly paid.
For instance, the department's St. Louis branch has recovered more than $1.7 million in back wages for 4,000 employees of SSM Health Care hospitals and clinics.
Boston-based Partners HealthCare System also has agreed to pay more than $2.7 million to 700 employees for Fair Labor Standards Act violations.
A number of other lawsuits still are pending.
Tackling the Issue
Some employers and industry groups have begun working to address improper employee payments.
For example, the Greater New York Hospital Association recently convened a labor law seminar to encourage members to review their compliance with federal regulations.
In addition, Partners HealthCare has increased its internal scrutiny of payment practices. The system recently contacted the Labor Department after it discovered that some of its affiliates inappropriately calculated total work hours for employees working at multiple facilities (Pear, New York Times, 8/9).
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