When you hire someone to work in your home, you’ve probably spent a lot of time putting together a weekly budget that covers your care needs based on a certain amount of hours your household employee will work. So when the unexpected happens and your caregiver’s working hours change, it’s understandable to think you can even things out by moving a few hours to the following week. But according to the Department of Labor, this is not the correct way to handle your caregiver’s payroll.
“The Fair Labor Standards Act defines a work week as a set seven day period that you as an employer have to adhere to,” says Tom Breedlove, Sr. Director of Care.com Homepay. “You shouldn’t be changing your employee’s work week unless there is a permanent change to their schedule.”
Rolling over hours can cause your employee to be underpaid
If you bank the hours your employee works into the next work week, you’re not paying them for the work they’ve already done. While it’s true that many states allow you to choose a bi-weekly or semi-monthly pay frequency for your employee, the FLSA does not allow you to average hours across multiple work weeks. And if you live in a state where you must pay weekly, you will be short-changing your employee for the week.
Moving hours worked to the following week can violate overtime laws
The Department of Labor says almost all household employees are non-exempt workers, which means they must be paid hourly and earn overtime for all hours worked over 40 in a work week. If your employee works additional unexpected hours during a week that puts them into overtime status, it is a violation of wage and hour law to roll those overtime hours over to the next week to avoid paying the time-and-a-half rate.
How families should manage their caregiver when hours fluctuate from week to week
The easiest way to keep from making a payroll mistake is to keep track of all hours worked and pay your employee for the corresponding time. If additional time worked pushes your care budget beyond what you can manage, you can decrease the number of hours your caregiver will work the following week to make up the difference. This may mean using one of your vacation days or asking a family member to watch your loved ones for the day to cover for your employee.