Health Care Employers Should Brace For Increased Workforce Costs & Risks Under American Rescue Plan Act Of 2021 Minimum Wage Amendments

March 2, 2021

Health care organizations should brace for sharp increases in their wage and other workforce costs and risks if Senate Democrats succeed as expected in their plan to pass as early as this week the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the “Act”) passed by the House of Representatives on Friday, February 24, 2021.

The Act’s amendments to the minimum wage rates and other provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (“FLSA”) upon enactment immediately increase the federal minimum wage for non-exempt employees by $2.25 per hour and subsequently will continue to annually increase the federal minimum wage. The Act also phases out current rules allowing employers to pay tipped employees, new employees under age 20 and handicapped employees less than the regular minimum wage over the next five years. Furthermore, the reach and exposure resulting from these amendments are heightened further by the Biden-Harris Administration’s move to return to the proemployee  Obama-era worker classification, joint-employer and other FLSA interpretation and enforcement policies and practices abandoned during the Trump Administration.

Senate Majority Leaders Chuck Schumer has announced plans to schedule a vote in the Senate on the Act the first week in March.  With Congressional Democrats currently holding the majority of seats in the Senate by a narrow margin, the Act stands an excellent chance of enactment when put to the vote.

Given their heavy reliance on nonexempt employees and contract staffing, these changes obviously will hit health care and other workforce dependent industries hard.

Consequently, U.S. businesses should prepare to deal with these impending requirements.  In response to these developments, most U.S. businesses should both prepare to implement anticipated changes in the federal minimum wage for their recognized employees as well assess their likely exposure to added costs and liabilities arising from workers rendering services to their businesses directly or indirectly as independent contractors, through subcontractor relationships or in other capacities that the business dues not view as an employment relationship.

Act’s Federal Minimum Wage Amendments

Introduced and promoted by House Democrats as their latest COVID-19 relief package, Section 2101 of the Act amends the FLSA to immediately increase the federal minimum wage for all employees as well as phases out special FLSA minimum wage rates for tipped employees, new employees under 20 years of age and handicapped workers covered by Labor Department FLSA certificates.

Aside from the direct impact of these increases to the base minimum wage, the significance and cost of these increases for U.S. businesses will be further heightened by the Biden-Harris Administration’s plan to reimplement Obama-era FLSA worker classification rules that treat as employees workers providing services under contract labor relationships historically characterized as independent contractor, subcontractor and other non-employee capacities as well as narrow other requirements for treating workers as exempt from the FLSA minimum wage and overtime requirements as well as step up enforcement of FLSA rules.

Regulatory & Enforcement Changes Heighten Health Industry Risks

Health industry leaders and organizations assessing their costs and exposures from the Act’s amendments to the FLSA should take into account the likely impact of the implications of the Biden-Harris Administration’s policies expanding the scope of the FLSA and other federal laws through revisions and enforcement of rules for characterizing workers as employees rather than independent contractors and enforcing expansive joint employer liability rules as well as other announced or expected Biden-Harris Administration proworker regulatory and enforcement changes expected to expand the potential reach and cost of the Act’s increases to federal minimum wage rates.

Even before the Biden-Harris Administration took office, health care industry employers were the subject of heightened attention and enforcement by WHD.  Consistent with this high attention to health industry compliance and oversight, WHD already has sanctioned several health industry employers since the first of the year.  See, e.g., Ohio Health Care Service Provider For Individuals With Developmental Disabilities Pays $92K In Overtime Back Wages To 61 Employees  (February 5, 2021)(Failure to pay overtime.);  Modesto Residential Care Facilities To Pay Employees $135K In Back Wages After US Department Of Labor Finds Minimum Wage, Overtime Violations (February 5, 2021) (Owner of eight residential care facilities in Modesto will pay $135,092 in back wages to 56 employees and $27,872 in civil penalties); U.S. Labor Department Recovers $35,492 in Overtime Back Wages For 12 Employees of Pittsburgh Area Ambulance Service  (January 4, 2021) (Jefferson Hills Area Ambulance Association – a private ambulance service operating as Southeast Regional EMS in Clairton and Elizabeth, Pennsylvania paid $35,492 in back wages to 12 first responder employees for FLSA overtime violations);  U.S. Department Of Labor Recovers $81,399 In Back Wages For 45 Employees Of Columbus, Ohio, Nursing Home (December 30, 2020) (Chelsea Health Care LLC paid $81,399 in back wages to 45 employees for FLSA overtime violations).

These historical exposures have been heighted as the COVID-19 crisis has taxed the staffing resources of many health care organizations and forced others to implement remote work and other COVID-19 driven adjustments disrupting typical staffing, timekeeping and other resources.

Amid these continuing challenges, policy and enforcement challenges by the Biden-Harris Administration are raising health industry exposures.  Shortly after the Biden-Harris Administration took over in January, the WHD ended a Trump Administration Payroll Audit Independent Determination Program that offered noncompliance employers a pathway to voluntary compliance. See US Department Of Labor Ends Program That Allowed Employers To Self-Report Federal Minimum Wage And Overtime Violations.

Since taking office, the Biden-Harris Administration also has made clear it plans to review and challenge workers as exempt from the FLSA minimum wage and overtime rules based upon independent contractor or other characterizations of workers rendering services critical to operations as non-employees. In furtherance of these goals, the Biden-Harris Administration’s January 20, 2021 Memorandum on Regulatory Freeze Pending Review suspended the implementation of the Trump Administration led Labor Department’s Final Rule: Independent Contractor Status under the Fair Labor Standards Act slated to take effect on March 8, 2021, which sought to reinstitute and clarify historical policies for distinguishing employee versus independent contractor relationships and for determining the existence of joint employer status for purposes of the FLSA established by judicial precedent prior to the Obama Administration.

Subsequently, the Biden-Harris Administration led Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) also has acted aggressively to reimplement and enforce Obama Administration-era standards and practices for distinguishing employees from independent contractors.  Among other things, it has withdrawn Trump Ear WHD opinions which applied the more expansive view of independent contractor status contemplated by the now suspended Trump Administration-issued Final Regulations as compared to the more narrow standards applied for administration and enforcement during the Obama Administration.

Proactively Manage Compliance & Risks

Given these signals, health care and other organizations should prepare to defend against WHD and private plaintiffs efforts to use the Biden-Harris Administration’s more employee friendly interpretation and enforcement policies to attack employer characterizations of workers as contractors relied upon by the employing organization to justify nonpayment of minimum wage and overtime to those workers.

In making these preparations, health care organizations should scrutinize and tighten both their own wage and hour practices as well as their contracts, recordkeeping and retention and compliance auditing of any staffing, contract labor, subcontractors and other third-party service providers to reduce potential liability.  Advance planning and efforts for work provided by contractors or other third parties is particularly critical as FLSA liabilities arising from misclassification of workers as independent contractors or joint employer liability claims can be both hard to defend and expensive because the organization charged often lacks sufficient management oversight, involvement or records to launch an effective defense.  The Biden-Harris Administration has made clear that it plans to move quickly to reinstitute the regulatory and enforcement practices used during the Obama Administration to aggressively challenge employers’ characterization of workers as exempt from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime rules as independent contractors.  Health care and other organizations receiving services from contractors or other third parties often can reduce reclassification or joint employer exposures by strengthening contractual, data reporting and collection, processes and other practices.

More Information

If you are interested in a more detailed description of the Act’s FLSA provisions and other developments discussed in this article, see here.  The FLSA reforms are only one of a number of provisions of the Act impacting employers and their employee benefit plans.

If you would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information including your preferred e-mail by creating your profile here.  For specific information or counsel about the these or other legal, management or public policy developments,  Ms. Stamer’s work, experience, involvements, other publications, or programs, contact Cynthia Marcotte Stamer via e-mail or via telephone at (214) 452 -8297,  follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter or see Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C. Website.

About the Author

Recognized by her peers as a Martindale-Hubble “AV-Preeminent” (Top 1%) and “Top Rated Lawyer” with special recognition LexisNexis® Martindale-Hubbell® as “LEGAL LEADER™ Texas Top Rated Lawyer” in Health Care Law and Labor and Employment Law; as among the “Best Lawyers In Dallas” for her work in the fields of “Labor & Employment,” “Tax: ERISA & Employee Benefits,” “Health Care” and “Business and Commercial Law” by D Magazine, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer is a practicing attorney board certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and management consultant, author, public policy advocate and lecturer widely known for 30+ years working as an on demand, special project, consulting, general counsel or other basis with domestic and international business, charitable, community and government organizations of all types, sizes and industries and their leaders on labor and employment and other workforce compliance, performance management, internal controls and governance, compensation and benefits, regulatory compliance, investigations and audits, change management and restructuring, disaster preparedness and response and other operational, risk management and tactical concerns.

Most widely recognized for her work with health care, life sciences, insurance and data and technology organizations, she also has worked extensively with health plan and insurance, employee benefits, financial, transportation, manufacturing, energy, real estate, accounting and other services, public and private academic and other education, hospitality, charitable, civic and other business, government and community organizations. and their leaders.

Ms. Stamer has extensive experience advising, representing, defending and training domestic and international public and private health care and life sciences, charitable, community and governmental, and other business organizations and their leaders, employee benefit plans, their fiduciaries and service providers, insurers, and others.  A widely published author and popular speaker, Ms. Stamer also has published and spoken extensively on wage and other and other health  care, human resources, employee benefits and other workforce and services; insurance; workers’ compensation and occupational disease; business reengineering, disaster and distress;  and many other compliance, governance, risk management, operational and public and regulatory affairs concerns.

A former lead advisor to the Government of Bolivia on its pension  project, Ms. Stamer also has worked internationally and domestically as an advisor to health, managed care, insurance, and other business, community and government leaders on these and other legislative, regulatory and other legislative and regulatory design, drafting, interpretation and enforcement, as well as regularly advises and represents organizations on the design, administration and defense of workforce, employee benefit and compensation, safety, discipline, reengineering, regulatory and operational compliance and other management practices and actions.

Ms. Stamer also serves in leadership of a broad range of professional and civic organizations and provides insights and thought leadership through her extensive publications, public speaking and volunteer service with a diverse range of organizations including as Chair of the American Bar Association (“ABA”) Intellectual Property Section Law Practice Management Committee, Vice Chair of the International Section Life Sciences and Health Committee, Past ABA RPTE Employee Benefits & Other Compensation Group Chair and Council Representative and current Welfare Benefit Committee Co-Chair, Past Chair of the ABA Managed Care & Insurance Interest Group, past Region IV Chair and national Society of Human Resources Management Consultant Forum Board Member,  past Texas Association of Business BACPAC Chair, Regional Chair and Dallas Chapter Chair, former Vice President and Executive Director of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, past Board President of Richardson Development Center (now Warren Center) for Children Early Childhood Intervention Agency, past North Texas United Way Long Range Planning Committee Member, past Board Member and Compliance Chair of the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, a Fellow in the American College of Employee Benefit Counsel, the American Bar Foundation and the Texas Bar Foundation and many others.

About Solutions Law Press, Inc.™

Solutions Law Press, Inc.™ provides human resources and employee benefit and other business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other coaching, tools and other resources, training and education on leadership, governance, human resources, employee benefits, data security and privacy, insurance, health care and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press, Inc.™ resources available here such as:

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information including your preferred e-mail by creating your profile here.  ©2021 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer. Non-exclusive right to republish granted to Solutions Law Press, Inc.™


Health Care Employers Beat National Average When Offering Health Benefits To Workers

July 29, 2011

A new 2011 U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics Study of employee benefits offered shares key insights into the availability of employer-provided health and other coverage. 

With regard to health benefits, the report reveals that practices vary significantly among employers, on average, medical care benefits were available to 69 percent of private industry workers. 1/2 private industry  workers participated in a medical plan. For single coverage, private sector employers paid 80 percent of the medical care premiums for full-time workers and  69 percent of medical care premiums for full-time workers in private industry.  Data shows employees often elect not to take offered coverage.  

The study shows that health and other benefits offered by employers and utilized by employees varies widely varied by whether the employer is a government or private sector employer, the industry, size and other characteristics of the employer and the income, profession, education and other characteristics of the employee. It is no surprise that government employers that can pass along costs to taxpayers provide coverage more broadly and subsidize more of the cost. 

The report reveals that most health care employers offer health coverage and significantly subsidize the cost of this coverage for their workers.    According to the report:

  •  73  percent of private sector health care workers are offered health coverage by their employers;
  • 52 percent of health care workers participate in employer provided health care coverage;
  • The take up rate by private sector health industry workers for employer provided coverage is  72 percent.

The report also shows that private sector health care employers on average paid 81  percent of single coverage health coverage costs, and only required employees to contribute an average of 19 percent of the cost for their single coverage.      

In addition to data on medical benefits, the study also reports that paid leave remains the most commonly provided benefit nationally and includes data on other benefits.

The DOL highlights 1st time reporting of domestic partner status for 1st time in its announcement.  Data also provided on paid vacation and other leave. 

Read report summary and access report at http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ebs2.nr0.htm.

For Help or More Information

If you have questions or need help understanding or responding to the Regulations, with other health benefit design, administration or operations concerns, or with other employee benefits, compensation, labor or employment or other workforce management concerns, please contact the author of this update, Board Certified Labor and Employment attorney and management consultant Cynthia Marcotte Stamer here or at (469)767-8872.

Past Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Interest Group, Chair of the ABA RPTE Employee Benefit and Other Compensation Committee, and a council member of the ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, Vice President of the North Texas Healthcare Compliance Professionals Association, Exempt Organizations Coordinator of the Gulf States Area TEGE Council, and Executive Director of the Project COPE: Coalition On Patient Empowerment, Ms. Stamer is nationally recognized for her more than 23 years pragmatic and innovative health program work.

Board certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization with extensive leading edge health care, human resources and employee benefits experience. 

For more than 24 years, Ms. Stamer has worked with health care providers, payers, government and charitable agencies, policymakers and others on managing health, insurance and employee benefits, practices, people, performance, costs, performance and policy.  In the health care industry, Ms. Stamer works extensively with hospitals, physician practices, skilled nursing, hospice, and other health care providers to manage their people, compliance, quality and operations.  Along side this work, Ms. Stamer also has worked extensively in the payor community on product design, administration, quality, contracting, compliance, public policy and other concerns.  As part of this work, she has worked continuously throughout her career helping self-insured and insured, public and private health plan sponsors, fiduciaries, administrators, insurers and others design, administer and defend health and other employee benefit and insurance programs domestically and internationally. She is widely recognized for her experience helping design and implement legally compliant self-insured and insured health reimbursement, mini-med, high-deductible health plans, limited benefit plans, 24-hour and occupational medicine, Medicare and Medicaid Advantage, ex-pat and medical tourism, deductible reimbursement and other creative health benefit programs to solve a wide range of financial and other challenges while coping with changing regulatory and market realities. Her work includes both working with clients to design, document, implement and administer these and other arrangements, as well as the development of wellness and disease management, claims administration and appeals, eligibility, and other administrative services, processes and technologies.  Ms. Stamer regularly represents and defends these and other clients in dealings with the Department of Labor, Department of Justice, Department of Health & Human Services, Department of Defense, Internal Revenue Service, Securities and Exchange Commission, state insurance regulators, state attorneys general and other federal and state regulators and prosecutors and private plaintiffs in connection with investigations, prosecutions, audits and other actions arising from employee benefit, insurance and related arrangements and products.

Recognized in the International Who’s Who of Professionals and bearing the Martindale Hubble Premier AV-Rating, Ms. Stamer also is a highly regarded author and speaker, who regularly conducts management and other training on a wide range of health care, insurance, labor and employment, employee benefit, human resources, internal controls, privacy and data security, board governance and other related risk management matters.  Her writings frequently are published by the American Bar Association (ABA), Aspen Publishers, Bureau of National Affairs, the American Health Lawyers Association,the American Bar Association, SHRM, World At Work, Government Institutes, Inc., Atlantic Information Services, Employee Benefit News, Modern Healthcare, and many others. For a listing of some of these publications and programs, see here. Her insights on human resources risk management matters also have been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, various publications of The Bureau of National Affairs and Aspen Publishing, the Dallas Morning News, Spencer Publications, Health Leaders, Business Insurance, the Dallas and Houston Business Journals and a host of other publications. In addition to her many ABA leadership involvements, she also serves in leadership positions in numerous human resources, corporate compliance, and other professional and civic organizations. Her insights on these and other matters appear in the Bureau of National Affairs, Spencer Publications, the Wall Street Journal, the Dallas Business Journal, the Houston Business Journal, World At Work, the ICEBS, SHRM and many other national and local publications. For additional information about Ms. Stamer and her experience or to access other publications by Ms. Stamer see here or contact Ms. Stamer directly.

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, data security and privacy, insurance, health care and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources at www.solutionslawpress.com.

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile at here or e-mailing this information here.

©2011 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer.  Non-exclusive right to republish granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.

For assistance with assessing or defending your current worker classification, wage and hour or other health care and human resources policies and controls, please contact Cynthia Marcotte Stamer at cstamer@solutionslawyer.net, 972-419-7188..

For More Information or Assistance

The author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, has extensive experience advising and assisting health care providers and other health industry clients to respond to these and other health care industry enforcement and other compliance, public policy, regulatory, staffing, and other operations and risk management matters.

Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law, Vice President of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section and the former Board Compliance Chair of the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, Ms. Stamer has more than 23 years experience advising physicians, hospitals and other health industry, assisted living, educational and other clients about human resources, employee benefits and compensation, regulatory compliance and enforcement, quality assurance, peer review, licensing and discipline, and other medical staff performance matters.  She continuously advises health industry clients about the use of technology, process and other mechanisms to promote compliance and internal controls, workforce and medical staff performance, quality, governance, reimbursement, and other risk management and operational needs. As part of this experience, she has worked extensively with health care providers, payers, health care technology and consulting and other health industry clients, as well as other businesses, on privacy, data security, trade secret and related matters. A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry concerns, Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on health care compliance, staffing and human resources, compensation and benefits, technology, medical staff, public policy, reimbursement, privacy, technology, and other health and managed care industry regulatory, and other operations and risk management concerns for medical societies and staffs, hospitals, the HCCA, American Bar Association, American Health Lawyers Association and many other health industry groups and symposia.  Her highly popular and information packed programs include many highly regarded publications on HIPAA, FACTA, medical confidentiality, state identity theft and privacy and other many other related matters.  Her insights on these and other related matters appear in the Health Care Compliance Association, Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, World At Work, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance, the Dallas Morning News, Modern Health Care, Managed Healthcare, Health Leaders, and a many other national and local publications. To review some of her many publications and presentations, or for additional information about Ms. Stamer, her experience, involvements, programs or publications, see here.

Other Recent Developments

If you found this information of interest, you also may be interested in reviewing some of the following recent Updates available online by clicking on the article title:

For More Information

We hope that this information is useful to you.  You can review other recent health care and internal controls resources and additional information about the health industry and other experience of Ms. Stamer here. If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile at here or e-mailing this information here.

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, compensation, data security and privacy, health care, insurance, and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and other key operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources.  If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates and notices about other upcoming Solutions Law Press events, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile at here. For important information concerning this communication click here

©2010 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer. Limited license to reprint granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.


Supreme Court Ruling Medical Resident Stipend Are Wages Highlights Advisability of Compliance Review

January 12, 2011

Stipends paid to medical residents to provide on patient care and other medical services for 40 or more hours per week as part of an accredited graduate medical education program are wages paid to employees for Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) payroll taxes purposes and do not qualify as exempt from FICA tax or withholding as student stipends according to January 11, 201 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Mayo Foundation v. U.S.   Joining a growing series of rulings enforcing changing treatment of doctors and other healthcare workers, the decision is the latest reminder to health care providers and others of the need to critically review and update as necessary their organizations existing worker and wage characterization in light of evolving interpretations and the growing success of regulators and private plaintiffs in challenging these classifications.

In Mayo Foundation, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the plea of Mayo Foundation For Medical Education And Research (Mayo) that it overrule an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Regulation that provides that medical students or others providing full-time services as part of their course of instruction do not qualify as “students” for purposes of the “student” exemption of Code § 3121(b)(10) regardless of whether “the services performed . . . may have an educational, instructional, or training aspect.” See Treas. Reg. §31.3121(b)(10)–2(d)(3)(iii).   Mayo Foundation, the Supreme Court ruled against Mayo Foundation.  It ruled the IRS’ regulation construing Code § 3121(b)(1) as inapplicable to medical students or other workers providing full-time services as part of a residency or other educational program should stand as Congress has not directly spoken to foreclose that interpretation and because the Treasury Department’s rule is a reasonable construction of what Congress has said. 

Beyond its specific holding, the Mayo Foundation decision also serves as another reminder that health industry and other employers should not take the defensibility of their worker classification and associated income and payroll tax, employee benefit, employment and other practices for granted. 

Recent developments send a clear message that health industry and other employers must remain constantly diligent about confirming and documenting the defensibility of their worker classifications and other associated practices in light of evolving rules and standards, enforcement, the growing frequency and success of regulators and private plaintiff challenges, and changing workforce practices of workers generally, and health care employers specifically.  See e.g. Review of Worker Classification Needed As Classification Scrutiny Rises;Minimum Wage, Overtime Risks Highlighted By Labor Department Strike Force Targeting Residential Care & Group Homes; Review & Strengthen Defensibility of Existing Worker Classification Practices In Light of Rising Congressional & Regulatory Scrutiny; 250 New Investigators, Renewed DOL Enforcement Emphasis Signal Rising Wage & Hour Risks For EmployersQuest Diagnostics, Inc. To Pay $688,000 In Overtime Backpay.

The IRS, Department of Labor and other federal and state regulators are stepping up scrutiny of and enforcement of worker classifications and claims of exemption from applicable employment, tax and other requirements.  In light of these and other developments, health industry and other employers should take reasonable steps to guard against these and other growing risks of worker misclassification and associated non-compliance.  Health industry practices have been specifically targeted as part of many of these regulatory initiatives.

To minimize their potential exposure, health industry and other employers should consult with qualified legal counsel for advice within the scope of attorney-client privilege concerning the need to audit or otherwise act to strengthen the defensibility of their existing worker classification, employee benefit, fringe benefit, employment, wage and hour, and other workforce policies to mitigate exposures to potential IRS, Labor Department or other risks of worker misclassification or the handling of associated payroll, employment or other responsibilities.

For Help With Investigations, Policy Updates Or Other Needs

If you need assistance in conducting a risk assessment of or responding to IRS, Labor Department or other legal challenges to your health care organization’s existing workforce classification or other health care related risk management or compliance concerns, please contact the author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer.

Vice President of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section, the former Board Compliance Chair of the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, and Board Certified In Labor & Employment Law, Ms. Stamer has more than 23 years experience advising health industry clients about these and other matters. Ms. Stamer has extensive experience advising and assisting health care providers and other health industry clients to establish and administer compliance and risk management policies and to respond to health care industry investigation, enforcement and other compliance, public policy, regulatory, staffing, and other operations and risk management concerns. A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry concerns, Ms. Stamer continuously advises health industry clients about compliance and internal controls, workforce and medical staff performance, quality, governance, reimbursement, and other risk management and operational matters. Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on health and managed care industry regulatory, staffing and human resources, compensation and benefits, technology, public policy, reimbursement and other operations and risk management concerns. Her insights on these and other related matters appear in the Health Care Compliance Association, Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, World At Work, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance, the Dallas Morning News, Modern Health Care, Managed Healthcare, Health Leaders, and a many other national and local publications.  You can get more information about her health industry experience here. If you need assistance with these or other compliance concerns, wish to inquire about arranging for compliance audit or training, or need legal representation on other matters please contact Ms. Stamer at (469) 767-8872 or via e-mail here.

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, compensation, data security and privacy, health care, insurance, and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and other key operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources including:

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile here. For important information concerning this communication click here. 

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©2011 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C.  Non-exclusive license to republish granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.


Minimum Wage, Overtime Risks Highlighted By Labor Department Strike Force Targeting Residential Care & Group Homes

December 16, 2010

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has appointed a strike force to investigate violations of federal minimum wage, overtime, recordkeeping and child labor law by residential care and group homes in North Carolina.  The announced strike force targeting violations in the Charlotte and Raleigh areas with the intention to expand the strike force actions statewide over the next 10 months highlights the growing risks that health and other caregivers face for wage and hour and other employment law violations. 

Group homes, including those providing adult resident care, family care, assisted housing and special care, employ more than 7,000 workers in North Carolina. Wage and Hour Division officials project the strike force investigations will affect more than 1,700 workers in the Charlotte area and more than 400 workers in the Raleigh-Cary area.

In cases where a staffing or other middle-layer management company provides services to a residential care facility, Wage and Hour Division investigators will focus on determining whether both companies may be held jointly liable for violations. With multi-establishment enterprises, investigators will be looking to enter into enterprise-wide agreements that affect all operations of the parent corporation.  

Misclassification of workers and inappropriate compensation time practices are common compliance concerns among employers generally and for health and caregiver industry employers particularly.  As in other industries, these employers often overestimate the scope and applicability of the exempt classification, misclassify workers as independent contractors who are actually common law employees, overestimate their ability to provide “comp time” in lieu of overtime, misapply “on-call” policies, or misunderstand other FLSA requirements. 

Wage & Hour Division Fact Sheets and other enforcement actions reflect that many health and other caregiver employers incur overtime and minimum wage violations because improperly classify workers as exempt or contractors, fail to properly count and pay for all hours that an employee works in accordance with the FLSA, fail to properly credit time spent traveling or on call, fail to credit time spent for required attendance at lectures, meetings, training programs, recordkeeping and similar activities, improperly deduct time for breaks, fail to properly credit on call time, and fail to pay for unauthorized hours worked. Enforcement of these requirements against health and other caregiver employers also is rising since the Wage & Hour Division has included employers in these industries among the industry groups targeted for special compliance monitoring under the FLSA and the highly-publicized implementation of updated FLSA regulations regarding the classification of workers a few years ago has peaked the interest of plaintiffs’ attorneys . 

These mistakes can be very costly.  Health industry and other employers that fail to properly pay employees under Federal and state wage and hour regulations face substantial risk. Violation of wage and hour mandates carries substantial civil – and in the case of willful violations, even criminal- liability exposure.  Civil awards commonly include back pay, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.  As a consequence, health care and other employers should review and document the defensibility of their existing practices for classifying and compensating workers under existing Federal and state wage and hour laws and take appropriate steps to minimize their potential liability under applicable wages and hour laws. 

Under the FLSA, an employer generally must pay an employee in accordance with the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the FSLA unless the employer can prove that the employee qualifies as “exempt” as a white collar employee under the DOL’s FLSA regulations.  The FLSA mandates that the base hourly rate of pay of each “non-exempt” employee of not less than the current Federally-established minimum wage for each of the up to initial 40 hours of work performed by the employee in any workweek.  Subject to certain limited exceptions, the FLSA’s overtime rules generally also mandate that “non-exempt” employees be paid overtime pay at a rate of not less than one and one-half times the regular rate of pay for hours in excess of 40 hours of work performed in a given work week.  The regulations also provide guidance for determining when leased, contract or other non-traditionally employed workers will be treated as employees, for determining when an employer must treat “on-call” time, travel time, meal and break times, and certain other  time periods as compensable hours worked by a non-exempt employee, when “comp time” in lieu of the payment of wages is permitted, various alternative methods for calculating overtime under certain special circumstances, and various other rules applicable to various special circumstances.  In addition to these federal wage and hour requirements, employers also generally must comply with various state-imposed minimum wage, overtime, compensable time, paid break, and other rules governing the calculation and payment of wages to employees employed within the particular state in which the employee renders the services.   

Under the FSLA and applicable state wage and hour laws, employers generally bear the burden of proving that they have properly paid their employees in accordance with the FLSA. Additionally, the FLSA and most applicable state wage and hour laws mandate that employers maintain records of the hours worked by employees by non-exempt employees, documentation of the employer’s proper payment of its non-exempt employees in accordance with the minimum wage and overtime mandates of the FLSA, and certain other records.  Since the burden of proof of compliance generally rests upon the employer, health industry employers should take steps to ensure their ability to demonstrate that they have properly paid non-exempt employees in accordance with applicable FLSA and state wage and hour mandates and that employees not paid in accordance with these mandates qualify as exempt from coverage under the FLSA. 

To minimize exposure under the FLSA, health care employers should review and document the defensibility of their existing practices for classifying and compensating workers under existing Federal and state wage and hour laws and take appropriate steps to minimize their potential liability under applicable wages and hour laws.  Steps advisable as part of this process include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Conducting and audit of each worker current classified as exempt or a non-employee worker to assess its continued sustainability and to develop documentation justifying that characterization;
  • Update policies and procedures;
  • Review of existing practices for tracking compensable hours and paying non-exempt employees for compliance with applicable regulations and to identify opportunities to minimize costs and liabilities arising out of the regulatory mandates;
  • If the audit raises questions about the appropriateness of the classification of an employee as exempt, self-initiation of appropriate corrective action after consultation with qualified legal counsel;
  • Review of existing documentation and recordkeeping practices for hourly employees;
  • Explore available options and alternatives for calculating required wage payments to non-exempt employees;
  • Reengineer of work rules and other practices to minimize costs and liabilities as appropriate in light of the regulations;
  • Confirm the adequacy of recordkeeping and other documentation;
  • Audit and secure appropriate contractual assurance of the adequacy of wage and hour and other practices of staffing, leasing and other organizations providing supplemental workers to provide services; and
  • Verify the appropriateness or worker classification and compliance practices of workers providing services through a staffing, leasing or other arrangement where the worker is not treated as an employee of the employer.

Because of the potentially significant liability exposure, employers generally will want to consult with qualified legal counsel prior to the commencement of their assessment and to conduct the assessment within the scope of attorney-client privilege to minimize risks that might arise out of communications made in the course of conducting this sensitive investigation. 

For assistance with assessing or defending your current worker classification, wage and hour or other health care and human resources policies and controls, please contact Cynthia Marcotte Stamer at cstamer@solutionslawyer.net, 972-419-7188..

For More Information or Assistance

The author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, has extensive experience advising and assisting health care providers and other health industry clients to respond to these and other health care industry enforcement and other compliance, public policy, regulatory, staffing, and other operations and risk management matters.

Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law, Vice President of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section and the former Board Compliance Chair of the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, Ms. Stamer has more than 23 years experience advising physicians, hospitals and other health industry, assisted living, educational and other clients about human resources, employee benefits and compensation, regulatory compliance and enforcement, quality assurance, peer review, licensing and discipline, and other medical staff performance matters.  She continuously advises health industry clients about the use of technology, process and other mechanisms to promote compliance and internal controls, workforce and medical staff performance, quality, governance, reimbursement, and other risk management and operational needs. As part of this experience, she has worked extensively with health care providers, payers, health care technology and consulting and other health industry clients, as well as other businesses, on privacy, data security, trade secret and related matters. A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry concerns, Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on health care compliance, staffing and human resources, compensation and benefits, technology, medical staff, public policy, reimbursement, privacy, technology, and other health and managed care industry regulatory, and other operations and risk management concerns for medical societies and staffs, hospitals, the HCCA, American Bar Association, American Health Lawyers Association and many other health industry groups and symposia.  Her highly popular and information packed programs include many highly regarded publications on HIPAA, FACTA, medical confidentiality, state identity theft and privacy and other many other related matters.  Her insights on these and other related matters appear in the Health Care Compliance Association, Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, World At Work, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance, the Dallas Morning News, Modern Health Care, Managed Healthcare, Health Leaders, and a many other national and local publications. To review some of her many publications and presentations, or for additional information about Ms. Stamer, her experience, involvements, programs or publications, see here.

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About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, compensation, data security and privacy, health care, insurance, and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and other key operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources.  If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates and notices about other upcoming Solutions Law Press events, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile at here. For important information concerning this communication click here

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