Employers can avoid Wage and Hour penalties through pilot program

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Employers can avoid Wage and Hour penalties through pilot program
Employers can avoid Wage and Hour penalties through pilot program

Employers who inadvertently violated the overtime and minimum wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act can avoid penalties through a new pilot program, the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor said Tuesday in announcing the program.

The Payroll Audit Independent Determination, or PAID, program aims to resolve potential violations without legal action so that affected employees promptly can receive all of the back wages owed them without having to pay litigation expenses, attorneys' fees or other otherwise application costs, according to the division.

The pilot program will last for approximately six months and then will be evaluated. The program could become permanent, the division said.

“The division will not impose penalties or liquidated damages to finalize a settlement for employers who choose to participate in the PAID program and proactively work with the division to fix and resolve their potential compensation errors,” the division said in a news release.

Employers currently in litigation or under investigation by the division for potential FLSA violations cannot participate in the program, nor can they use the program repeatedly to resolve the same potential violations, the division said.

Participating employers will be required to review the division's compliance assistance materials, audit their pay practices and agree to correct pay practices as necessary going forward.

Senior living community operators can find themselves in trouble for not paying employees properly and also not keeping accurate records. The FLSA requires that employees receive one-and-a-half times their regular rates of pay when they work more than 40 hours in a work week and that employers maintain adequate and accurate records of employees' wages and work hours.

Among cases so far this year, an operator of three assisted living homes paid $194,275 in back wages to 13 caregivers and cooks to resolve FLSA violations, and the owners of 10 assisted living communities agreed to pay $173,539 in previously unpaid overtime pay to 72 employees, the Department of Labor announced. The two cases were in California.

Additionally, the owner of six residential care facilities in Los Angeles received more than $7 million in citations for alleged wage theft and other labor law violations, according to the California Labor Commissioner's Office.

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