How Your Household Help Puts You at Risk – U.S. Business News – CNBC
This is a very important topic for both employers and staff to understand. Households that employ staff have legal obligations and a good management structure is the key. Educate yourselves and your households!
Employee lawsuits are not the only risk that comes with prosperity. The more cars you own and loan, the more exposure you have. Yachts, swimming pools and jet skis are liabilities as much as they are signs of success. Even the best of intentions can lead high-net-worth individuals into risk: Bob Courtemanche, division president of Ace Private Risk, cautions that homeowners who serve alcohol at a fundraiser or wedding can be sued if an over-served guest harms another guest — or crashes into another driver long after he or she leaves the party.It is domestic staff, however, that provide the bulk of lawsuits, precisely because nannies, maids, and gardeners have become such widespread fixtures of an upscale lifestyle. Many wealthy homeowners consider their household help members of the family, and don’t think about their constant presence in terms of hours worked and overtime pay.In 2010, workers filed a record number of wage complaints against employers, and initial reports indicate that the number went up again last year. Most of those were class actions, which homeowners may imagine only occur in factories and big-box stores. Even a relatively small staff can file collectively, however, as long as they all share the same complaint.Making a case against household employers is getting easier. “More people are filing because they can,” says Leigh. Last year, New York state passed a domestic worker bill-of-rights law that mandated vacation days, sick days and a weekly day of rest, and is following up with a campaign to make workers aware of their rights.The U.S. Department of Labor’s Timesheet app for smartphones, which allows employees to track their hours, breaks and days off, has also put newfound power literally in domestic workers’ hands. If the app is the only record of a worker’s hours, says Leigh, “the judgment will fall to the employee because you can’t prove otherwise.”