Paying Domestic Workers

Unsure of the rules for paying your domestic staff? Here are a few simple rules to follow.

1. Pay your staff on the same day each week, and plan ahead / make provisions for them to receive pay if you are away or otherwise unavailable on those paydays.

Typically we recommend paying through your business office or a third party payroll service. If you choose to have the employee file their taxes separately (or “on their own,” without your involvement,) they are still considered your employee, and not independent workers — therefore, you must still pay them regularly, on the terms which are outlined in the Work Agreement which our Agency does for you.

Simply put — if your employee does not forget to show up for work, you must be equally responsive to paying them. Forgetting to pay an employee is neglectful and can have serious legal consequences as it falls under the umbrella for many legal issues. Domestic staff work hard to make your life easier and it is important to remember your obligation to them as an employer, for legal and moral purposes.

For tax or legal guidance specific to your estate and state’s laws, please consult your financial team.


2. Providing overtime pay

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), you must pay at least minimum wage for every hour worked and overtime for every hour over 40 worked for live-out employees. Live-in Employees are to be paid overtime hours after 44 hours in a work week.

Example: if you agree to pay an employee $990 for 45 hours, which translates to $22 per hour, then you must pay the employee $22 per hour up to 40 hours of work, and the outstanding 5 hours of work will need to be paid time and a half, at $44 an hour. If you are paying a flat rate per week, make sure that it is at least minimum wage and supports the overtime amount owed beyond 40 / 44 hours per week.

Be sure to consult your accounting team when working out the details.

Below is a helpful guideline provided by NYS department of Labor, and displays current laws which you can read more about here

Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights

Among other provisions, this law gives domestic workers: 

  • The right to overtime pay at time-and-a-half after 40 hours of work in a week, or 44 hours for workers who live in their employer’s home;

  • A day of rest (24 hours) every seven days, or overtime pay if they agree to work on that day;

  • Three paid days of rest each year after one year of work for the same employer; and

  • Protection under New York State Human Rights Law, and the creation of a special cause of action for domestic workers who suffer sexual or racial harassment.

Our agency follows laws and procedures of New York State and will help to answer your questions and point you in the right direction with all aspects of hiring new staff!