Two primary laws currently apply to domestic employees in New York: the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. §201 et seq. and the New York Labor Law’s wage and hour provisions.1 These applicable wage and hour laws, including the newly implemented domestic workers law, require families to act like small businesses (i.e., companies) in every material respect. This is a difficult concept for many families employing domestic workers to come to grips with. However, it is best for lawyers to share with clients the reality of these laws at the outset of an employment relationship, before a lawsuit is filed.

Application of Laws

Under the FLSA and New York’s wage and hour laws, many families are exposed to substantial financial risk should their relationships with nannies, housekeepers, chefs, and other household workers end badly. The difficulties often stem, not from what a worker is paid, but how s/he is paid. For example, families often arrange to pay domestic workers weekly salaries or daily rates, in some cases in cash “off the books.” This can lead to trouble even for a family that pays its household help far more than the minimum wages required by these laws.

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