There are general employment requirements and regulations that are specific to assisted living homes. The more you know about these rules and guidelines as they relate to your state, the better off you’ll be when you hit the ground running.
This article will provide an overview of 9 employment stipulations owners and operators need to know in order to be successful:
- Laws of Employment
- Department of Labor Laws
- Workplace Rights
- Minimum Wage and Overtime
- Independent Contractors
- Disability and Other Claims of Leave of Absence
LAWS OF EMPLOYMENT
Employment law is relatively streamlined, regardless of your state. However, in many instances, employment law can vary depending on the city where your assisted living home is located.
Therefore, it is critical that you know the employment law as it is enforced in the state where your business is located.
Employment law encompasses a variety of subjects. These are just a few for your consideration.
- Minimum Wage Requirements
- Posters regarding reporting complaints
- OSHA Requirements
- Department of Labor Contact Information
- State/Local Government Agencies supporting employees
The U.S. Department of Labor is the agency responsible for employment law regulations and oversight at the federal level.
Typically, states and other municipalities enact laws and policies in accordance with this department to ensure enforceability.
Likewise, it is imperative that owners of an assisted living home recognize the importance of these laws and build business policies that are aligned with them.
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR’S FIRST STEP
Employment law is not a one size fits all approach. There are different laws that apply to certain business types.
The laws vary based upon:
- Type of Business
- Size of Business (revenue and employee count)
- Type of Work Performed (Hazard/Non-hazard)
Knowing the employment laws that govern assisted living homes is significant. Employers must make certain visible postings in the workplace.
Visit the Department of Labor’s website to determine what notices are required in assisted living homes in your state.
Recently, the Department has added a program called First Step to aid business owners with this process.
This program also offers support as it relates to:
- Consumer Credit Protection
- Contract Work Hours
- Fair Labor Standards
- Family/Medical Leave
- Immigration and Nationality
- Child Labor
Knowing what to do, when to do it, and how to do it can mean the difference in compliance and noncompliance. The latter can be costly or detrimental to the vitality of your assisted living home.
Many may ask, “Why would I bother with employment law? Employees can just call the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Center) anyway?”
This is true.
Employees do have the right and ability to contact their local EEOC office in your area. However, as an employer of an assisted living home, employees need not contact this agency if your home offers an environment where employees feel safe, respected and heard.
The owner and management of an assisted living home should be the greatest advocate for their employees.
These people care for the income producing stream of your business – the residents.
As such, be the leader in your assisted living home as it pertains to employment law. Enlighten your employees on:
- Total compensation
- Equal employment
- Health plans
- Retirement plans
- Issues and Reasons for termination
- Wages and unemployment insurance
Be the expert in your assisted living home. It will foster trust with your employees and maximize care for your residents.
MINIMUM WAGE AND OVERTIME
You need to know the answers to these questions:
- Do you have workers in your assisted living home who make minimum wage?
- What are the laws pertaining to overtime in your state?
- Do you have care workers who may work overtime voluntarily?
- Can you mandate overtime in your state under certain conditions?
Generally, overtime pay begins after 40 hours, but under certain contracts it may be different.
What about weekend pay? In some states, certain jobs have higher wage requirements if performed on the weekends. Does this apply to your assisted living home in your state?
Do you have persons in your home who earn tips in addition to an hourly rate? If so, make sure those people understand the nature of their wages and the inclusion of tips for services rendered.
Most often if employees understand the nature of this type of employment, issues and challenges don’t become an issue.
Get the answers you need before starting your business.
Independent contractors can be a slippery slope in certain states.
Again, not to sound like a broken record, but understanding employment law in your state is crucial.
In some states, if an independent contractor is mandated to perform services, that person may no longer be a contractor and must be regarded as an employee. As a result, owners will be forced to provide all of the protection traditional employees are entitled to in your state.
Conversely, in other states, if a contract exists, regardless of the nature of the work, the person can never be considered an independent contractor.
- What makes a worker an independent contractor versus an employee?
- Can independent contractors work in an assisted living home in your state?
- Do these individuals have to have a registered business in order to render support services for residents?
- What power does an independent contractor have in your state?
- Can employees also be independent contractors in your state?
- Can someone work as a Medical Assist and secure a cleaning contract in the same assisted living home?
Many more questions could be posed, but you should begin to get the gist of this necessity.
Knowing what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and with whom a thing should be done makes all the difference.
DISABILITY AND OTHER CLAIMS OF LEAVE OF ABSENCE
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, also known as OSHA, protects employees working in hazardous environments. It is best to know:
- What constitutes a hazardous environment?
- What protections must the owner provide for these employees?
- Do employees have any responsibilities for their safety?
- How is fault determined?
- Who is responsible for proper training and/or certification?
The Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, protects:
- Pregnant women
- Spouses of employees
- Children of employees
This act was created because of the gross maltreatment of women in the workplace.\
The adverse effect of this treatment on the family forced the hand of the government to act on behalf of citizens.
Families were forced into poverty for the most trivial reasons, which were rooted in discriminatory practices that had silently ruled the workplace for over a century.
Support the employees in your assisted living home well and you will find that your employees are more likely to support your business as if it were their own.
The Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, contains several federal laws related to:
- Minimum wage
- Overtime pay requirements
It is important for the owner of the assisted living home to understand these laws do not apply to contract workers. However, know the laws of your state.
Should you treat a contract worker as an employee in certain states, these laws may be enforceable to some extent. It sounds contradictory but understanding state law is vital, even if you have to hire an attorney.
In general, when employees and contractors are treated and paid fairly, issues in this body of law rarely arise.
Owners of assisted living homes are not exempt from withholding taxes. How this happens depends on the nature of the relationship between the assisted living home and the worker.
A W-9 is required of all independent contracts prior to any payment for their services.
A Tax Identification Number or Social Security Number should be listed on the form.
If these contractors earn greater than $600, they may be responsible for any taxation. Contractors must settle their tax burden with the IRS.
Owners of the assisted living homes must render a Form 1099 to each contract worker. This will be filed with the IRS to report their annual earnings and to determine any additional tax liability.
The majority of taxes for employees are withheld by the employer and paid accordingly.
According to federal and state law, the owner of an assisted living home should make sure they understand:
- Is John an employee or contractor?
- Can Sally be an employee Monday through Friday and a contractor on the weekends?
- If the owner provides tools for Henry, is he still a contractor?
- Mary agreed to work additional overtime hours without an increase in her hourly rate. Is that legal?
- Keisha is 15 years old. Can she work in my assisted living home on weekends as an activity assistant?
HANDLE YOUR BUSINESS IN ASSISTED LIVING
Be sure, as the owner of an assisted living home, you are fully aware of the answers to these questions and a host of others.
Compliance is key – noncompliance is both costly and can be detrimental.
Owning and operating your first assisted living home can feel stressful and overwhelming without the right support.
Partner with the Residential Assisted Living Academy and get all the answers you need to operate a successful business without encountering unexpected glitches and setbacks.