Celebrate Our 25th Anniversary with 25% Off!

celebrating 25 years with 25% offIt’s hard to believe that we have been in business for 25 years, but here we are, still serving the Capital Region as the only fully licensed and insured household placement agency in town. And as our way of saying thanks to all the families we’ve worked with over the years, we have a special offer for you.

Are you looking to hire a part-time or full-time nanny for the summer or when school starts up in the fall? Need a babysitter for a date night? How about some help cleaning the house for a graduation party or other get-togethers? Sign up for temporary services and get 25% off your membership fee, a savings of over $30!

Looking to hire a long-term nanny? Sign up for long-term placement services and receive 25% off your application fee – that’s a savings of over $55!

Contact us now at (518) 348-0400 to take advantage of our 25th Anniversary savings.

Is My Nanny an Exempt Employee?

is my nanny an exempt employeeThere has been a lot of news lately about the Department of Labor’s new rule regarding overtime exemptions for exempt employees. Many household employers may be wondering if they need to take notice of this rule and if it applies to domestic workers.

“Exempt” and “non-exempt” are employee classifications under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)—a federal law dating back to 1938 that requires certain employees to receive minimum wage and overtime pay. An exempt employee is exempt from these requirements.

The FLSA lists a number of exemption categories. The most commonly used are the executive, administrative, professional, computer, outside sales, and highly compensated employee exemptions. These are collectively known as the “white collar” exemptions.

Most of these exemptions require that the job pass a three-part test:

  1. Duties: The employee has to do specific things regularly, such as use independent judgement or manage at least two people. Each exemption has its own duties test.
  2. Salary level: A minimum salary must be earned; currently $23,660, but this will rise to $47,476 on December 1, 2016.
  3. Salary basis: The employee is paid the same each week regardless of hours worked or the quantity or quality of their work.

If an employee meets all of the criteria under at least one of the FLSA’s exemptions, the employee qualifies as “exempt” and is not eligible for overtime pay. If the employee does not meet all of the criteria under one of these specific exemptions, they must be classified as “non-exempt,” and given overtime pay when applicable.

Are domestic workers exempt employees?

Any employee that currently earns $23,660 per year or less ($47,476 starting December 1st), regardless of their duties, are not exempt. Most nannies, senior care workers, and housekeepers would not be considered exempt (due to their duties and varying hours) and therefore must be paid overtime. But some household employees like estate managers, personal assistants, or house managers may qualify as exempt if they spend the majority of their time supervising, rather than performing tasks, and make the minimum salary required for exemption.

Still unsure?

View this helpful chart to determine if you have an employee that will qualify as exempt. Contact us at (518) 348-0400 for more information.

Excluding Sleep Hours from Nanny’s Paid Time

excluding sleep hours from nanny's paid timeWhen the Department of Labor’s Home Care Final Rule was approved last year,  Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA) protections were extended to most home care workers in the United States. That meant household employers needed to start complying with the FLSA’s requirements; therefore, an employer must determine what time constitutes “hours worked.” In some cases, the time a domestic employee spends sleeping at their workplace (the home) can be unpaid, even if the employee is required to be there, leading to the exclusion of sleep time hours for domestic workers.

The Home Care Final Rule did not change any of the requirements regarding sleep time. Depending on the type of domestic employee (a “live-in” employee, those working a 24 hour shift or more, or those working a less than 24 hour shift), the rules for excluding sleep time hours vary. For employees to whom the exclusion rules do apply, if sleep time is interrupted because of work duties, they employee must be paid, and if interruptions prevent the employee from getting a total of at least five hours of sleep, they are entitled to be paid for the entire night.

To help explain the sleep exclusion rules and how they apply, the Department of Labor has provided this handy chart below (click to enlarge).

excluding sleep hours from nanny

For more information about excluding sleep hours, please see this section of the DOL’s website, or contact us at (518) 348-0400.

Negotiating the Right Pay Rate for Your Nanny

negotiating the right pay rate for your nannyYou likely have an hourly rate in mind that you’d be comfortable paying a nanny or other household employee. When determining your budget, keep in mind your tax responsibilities that need to paid on top of your employee’s pay. You may also need to pay for workers’ compensation insurance. According to federal law, household employees are non-exempt, which mean they are paid an hourly rate and not a salary. Understanding the difference between gross pay and net pay will be a big help when negotiating the right pay rate for your nanny.

Gross Pay
This is the pay for your nanny or household employee before taxes are withheld.

Net Pay
Sometimes referred to as “take home” pay, this is the amount of money your employee receivesafter all taxes have been withheld.

You should make it clear to a potential hire whether you’re offering gross pay or net pay to avoid any confusion come pay day.

To help illustrate how the difference between gross and net pay works out in real dollars, please watch this brief video demonstration from our friends at GTM Payroll Services.

Visit GTM’s Nanny Tax calculator to determine a gross pay and hourly rate for your employee that will generate a specific take-home pay.

We are also here to help you discuss salary options with your nanny. For more information, contact us at (518) 348-0400.

 

Political Discussions with Your Nanny

political discussions with your nannyOne of the things some household employers struggle with is the idea that their home is a workplace when their nanny or other employee is on the clock. Because the home is a casual environment and not separate from where the family lives, it’s hard to draw the line between home and work when an employee is on duty. Employers that have a successful relationship with their employee recognize that their home is a workplace, and create policies accordingly.

This year has already been an intensely political one (and will continue to be), with the presidential campaigns creating a lot of passion and debate on both sides. Because of how much the campaigns are in the news, it seems to be a natural topic of discussion, especially in a more relaxed setting like a family’s home. But it’s crucial to remember that just like in an office environment, political discussions with your nanny may not be a good idea.

The key thing to keep in mind is that you have a professional relationship with your nanny. While it may seem more casual because the nanny works in your home, it’s his/her workplace. So what do you do if your nanny shows up one day wearing a shirt in support of a particular candidate (especially if it’s a candidate you dislike)? Or has a campaign pin on her purse or backpack? Are you allowed to ask that it be removed from your home?

Generally speaking, a private employer can ask an employee to remove political signs—or otherwise limit political expression in the workplace—as long as they don’t run afoul of protected Section 7 rights or applicable state laws.

Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act gives employees the right to talk about the terms and conditions of their work. While this law protects some political activities, it doesn’t give employees a right to display political signs on their person or the right to discuss, during work hours, politics that aren’t work-related. It is also important to keep in mind that several states more broadly protect the political speech of employees while off duty, so household employers should focus on workplace behavior and not on limiting the beliefs or protected outside activities of their employees.

So what happens if you’re a nanny, and the family you work for tries to initiate a political discussion, even something as simple as asking who you’ll be voting for? In this case, it’s up to you as the employee to decline to discuss it. Tell them that you prefer not to talk politics at work, that you have a professional relationship and are uncomfortable bringing up personal issues. The family must accept this and respect your wishes, just as you must accept and respect their wishes should they not want you to wear clothing or have items that bring political issues into the home.

The bottom line, again, is that your home is a workplace when your nanny is there, and political discussions should be avoided. Keep the relationship professional and focus on topics that either pertain to the job or are just small talk. Families should include a section in their employee handbook regarding political or religious discussions. That way you are covered if an employee ever takes issue with your restrictions.

For more information, contact us at (518) 348-0400.

New York Paid Family Leave Law Affects Household Employers

new york paid family leave household employersEarlier this month, Governor Cuomo announced the New York Paid Family Leave law, which is the nation’s longest and most comprehensive. This law impacts all private employers and employees in New York, regardless of size – including household employers and nannies.

How much does it cost employers and employees?

The family leave program will be funded by a payroll deduction of between 45₵ and $1 per week from each employee’s paycheck. It will become part of the deduction for New York State’s Temporary Disability Insurance, and it will not require a contribution from employers.

When will it take effect and how much are the benefits?

The paid family leave will be phased-in over a number of years. Beginning in 2018, paid leave benefits will be set at 50 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage and capped at 50 percent of the statewide average weekly wage. When fully implemented in 2021, the benefits will be set at 67 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage and capped at 67 percent of the statewide average weekly wage.

When the plan is fully phased-in, employees who have worked for an employer for six consecutive months will be eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid family leave. Part-time employees become eligible on the 175th day of employment. Leading up to the full phase-in, employees will be eligible for 8 weeks in 2018, 10 weeks in 2019 and 2020, and 12 weeks starting in 2021. The leave is protected, meaning employees must be returned to their same job or a comparable position, with the same benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment.

What can it be used for?

Employees may use this time to care for and bond with newborns or newly adopted children or foster children, to take care of themselves or a family member with a serious health condition, or to address certain legal, financial, and childcare issues that arise when a spouse is called to active military service.

Please note: this is not the same as the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA is unpaid leave and only applies to employers with at least 50 employees.

For more information, contact us at (518) 348-0400.

Refer a Family – Get a Gift Card!

image33013Could You Use a $15 Gift Card?

A New England Nanny is proud to announce our new referral program!

If you have a friend that could use a part-time nanny, occasional babysitting, housekeeping, or any other service we offer, we have a great deal for you.

Simply send us their information, and if they sign up with us, you’ll receive a $15 gift card from Panera. Plus your friend will thank you when they receive the same great service and support that you already do.

Get started today by filling out a very brief form. When your friend signs up, we’ll email you your gift card!
referFor more information, contact us at (518) 348-0400.

Another National Nanny Training Day Success!

We had another fantastic event this past Saturday for National Nanny Training Day! It was our highest-attended event yet.

Everyone enjoyed our speakers Michelle McNabb, Christina Nazarenus, and . Your presentations were very informative and engaging, thank you so much for coming!

Thanks as always to Nikki Sementa for performing the CPR training and certification for our nannies. We appreciate you helping us out year after year!

And special thanks to our friends at CAPCOM, The Children’s Museum of Saratoga, Bounce Around, Chuck E. Cheese, Miracles on Lice, and GTM Payroll Services for sponsoring our event.

And of course, thanks go out to all the nannies who attended! We love working with you and we’re so glad you could join us.

Here are some photos from Saturday. Thanks again to everyone involved in making the 2016 National Nanny Training Day a great success!

Christina demonstrates some housekeeping techniques.

Nikki giving CPR instruction.

 

national nanny training day 2016

Our awesome group!

Celebrating our 25th anniversary this year!

Great info on lice treatment and prevention from Miracles on Lice.

Nanny Jenifer and Michelle McNabb enjoying the day.

I Didn’t Know I Hired an Illegal Immigrant – Am I in Trouble?

hired an illegal immigrantThis year’s presidential election has brought many topics to the forefront of American minds, including increased discussions about illegal immigration. Ivana Trump, ex-wife of candidate Donald Trump, recently weighed in on employing immigrants in an article in the New York Post:

“As long as you come here legally and get a proper job … we need immigrants. Who’s going to vacuum our living rooms and clean up after us?”

Regardless of the rhetoric coming out of sound bites on news stations, immigration will continue to factor into our country’s political and economic makeup.

According to a Pew Research Center study published last year, there were 8.1 million unauthorized immigrants either working or looking for work in 2012. The study also shows that the largest number of unauthorized immigrant workers are found in service occupations, which include maids, cooks, or groundskeepers. In fact, maids and housekeepers account for 25% of undocumented workers within those occupations. These employees make up a critical part of our economy.

Household employment has always been impacted by this issue, as many employers consider hiring an undocumented worker to keep their expenses low by paying minimum wage (or sometimes less) and believing they don’t need to pay employment taxes because the worker is undocumented. But the law does not discriminate when it comes to paying federal and state taxes for an employee – employers who make the choice to hire undocumented workers still must comply with tax, labor, wage, and other employment laws as if the workers are legally eligible to be employed. Domestic workers can apply for what’s known as a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) in lieu of a Social Security number, which you can use for filing payroll taxes.

Certainly there are household employers who believe the worker they’ve hired is legally eligible to work in the U.S., only to find out later that they were misled by fraudulent documents. All employers in the United States must complete a Form I-9 for every employee hired. This ensures that only people legally able to work in the United States are hired. Therefore, employers use Form I-9 to verify the identity and employment eligibility of employees. However, families cannot be expected to be experts on whether a document provided to them is genuine. The USCIS says that you should accept documents that “reasonably appear on their face to be genuine and to relate to the person presenting them.” By following the proper procedures on good faith, you should be free of liability if the worker’s status is discovered.

The bottom line is that household employers should only hire people who are legally authorized to work in the United States, including U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, and other aliens authorized to work, such as refugees, asylees, and persons in Temporary Protected Status. There are many reasons why you should not hire illegal workers, mostly because you can face harsh penalties if you do so incorrectly and there is the risk that the worker may have to be deported back to their country of origin, which can be traumatic for a family, especially if it’s a nanny that the children have bonded with. It is also much harder to perform background checks and gain verifiable references when contacting international sources.

For more information, contact us at (518) 348-0400.

Guide to Employing Home Care Workers

guide to employing home care workersThe Department of Labor (DOL) recently released a new publication to help families that employ home care workers deal with the very strict wage and hour requirements of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the federal minimum wage and overtime law that applies to most home care workers. The Guide for Employing Home Care Workers was created to help individuals and households determine their responsibilities under the FLSA.

The guide explains several things about who must follow the FLSA rules, with examples showing how it applies when:

  • You hire a home care worker directly
  • You use a home care agency
  • You arrange care through a self-directed program

The guide describes what to do when your paid home care worker is a family member, and if you have a live-in home care worker. Also included are instructions to comply with the FLSA rules, such as minimum wage and overtime rules, tracking employee hours, and record keeping.

It’s very important to understand the rules about whether your home care worker is an employee or an independent contractor. If you hired the worker yourself, if you set the worker’s hours and dictate what tasks are to be done, then the worker is most likely an employee, and therefore you are subject to the FLSA rules on proper wage payment.

Download the guide here, and contact us at (518) 348-0400 if you have any questions.