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The payroll implications when taking a caregiver or personal attendant on trips with you
Many families want or need to have help while on vacation. When travelling with
an employee, federal law requires the employer to compensate the employee for all
hours worked during the trip, including time spent traveling. The employee’s travel
expenses, such as airfare, lodging and meals, are not taxable income to the employee;
they are expenses the family incurs to have their employee on-the-job when they
Hours worked when traveling are treated no differently than when working in the
family’s home. The employee must be compensated for all hours she is on-the-job,
and if the working time exceeds 40 hours in a 7-day period the family is required
to pay overtime at a rate of 1.5 times the regular wage. While the family must pay
their employee for working time, they are not required to compensate her for her
non-working time (i.e. free time completely on her own, sleeping time, etc.). Because
it’s vacation, there is often a question about what should be considered “working
time.” The rule of thumb is fairly simple: if the employee is performing duties,
it’s considered “working time” – even if the work is being performed in a beautiful
beach, mountain or resort setting.
Having worked for many years with families who travel with their employee, we’d
like to share a best-practice suggestion: Because the work schedule during travel
is often very different than the normal home schedule, problems can arise if you
don’t have an equitable way to compensate for the changed number of hours. So if
your employee is on a fixed salary, consider converting the salary into an hourly
rate and then having a discussion about compensation before the trip. This will
ensure fair pay for hours worked and prevent a situation where one of the parties
feels cheated and resentful.
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