On November 15, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the recovery of nearly $400,000 in back wages for workers in Colorado’s child care industry. Pursuant to its 2012 initiative, the Division conducted 103 investigations of child care service providers in Denver, Fort Collins, and Colorado Springs. This initiative in Colorado will continue through 2013, while similar initiatives are occurring in Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, Texas, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
Common violations included: failing to pay employees for hours worked (such as for time spent attending mandatory training courses or for work performed off-the-clock); improperly classifying employees as exempt from overtime requirements; reducing earnings below the federal minimum wage with illegal deductions; paying “straight time” rates for all hours worked instead of time and one-half for hours worked over 40 in a week; and failing to maintain accurate records of employees’ work hours and wages.
This heightened scrutiny should motivate employers, especially those in the child care industry, to review their pay practices. With minimal effort, employers can eliminate significant risk and liability by simply “picking the low hanging fruit.” For example, ensure measures are in place to track and pay employees at the appropriate rate (straight time or overtime) for all hours worked. Next, verify that supervisors understand what hours worked includes. Finally, certify that your recordkeeping is in compliance with state and federal wage and hour requirements.
As you address these basic concerns, remember that MSEC’s employment law attorneys are here to help.