Home Health Workers: Difference in Federal and Minnesota Wage & Hour Laws

Nursing negligence
Wages for employees are covered by both Federal and state wage and hour laws. The federal law that governs wage and overtime requirements is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the regulations established under that act. In most cases, the FSLA does not require employers to pay minimum wage or overtime to employees who provide home care services to individuals who, because of age or illness, are unable to care for themselves. What some employers and employees do not know is that employer may still have to pay these employees applicable minimum wage and overtime under Minnesota’s wage and hour laws.

Federal Law

For many unsalaried jobs, the FSLA has required that employers pay their employees overtime for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. Since 1974, the FLSA has exempted certain household workers from federal minimum wage and overtime. Pursuant to the U.S. Wage and Hour Division Fact Sheet #25, employers of employees engaged in “companionship services”, as that term is defined by the Fair Labors Standards Act (FLSA), are not required to pay minimum wage or overtime. Although registered or practical nurses are not covered by the Fact Sheet #25, they still may be exempt from minimum wage and overtime because they may be held to be professionals. Additionally, certified nurse aides and home health care aides may be considered exempt from overtime and minimum wage depending upon the nature of their work.

Minnesota Law

Even if a home health care worker or companion is exempt from federal law, Minnesota may still require that the worker receive minimum wage (currently $6.15 per hour) and overtime. Unlike the FSLA, there is no exemption under Minnesota law for the home health care industry. Licensed nurses and other professionals may, however, still be exempt from minimum wage and overtime if they are salaries professionals.

Under Minnesota law, employers must generally pay companion or home health care workers overtime for hours worked in excess of 48 hours per week.

Both state and federal laws contain complex provisions related to time spent sleeping and breaks. There are also complex provisions as to whether an employee is on call or is waiting to be engaged.

State and federal wage and hour laws also include penalties assessed against the employer for failure to pay required overtime. Employers may also be required to pay the attorneys fees and court costs for employees who were not paid applicable minimum wage and overtime. The attorneys at Chase Law, PLLC have experience in both federal and state law minimum wage and overtime issues and can help you determine how the law relates to you.

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