So I sat in church yesterday morning listening to the
parable about the workers in the vineyard. Since I'm Jewish and haven't spent a
whole lot of time inside churches, it was the first time I had ever heard this
story. For those, like me, who aren't familiar with it, the story concerns a
man who, after hiring various workers to tend to his vineyard for an agreed
day's wage, paid them each the same amount, regardless of how many hours they
actually worked. Those hired in the morning and worked a full day received the
same wage as those hired late in the day who only worked an hour. Upon hearing
this story, I thought two things: 1) Jesus might have been the world's first
socialist, and 2) this story would make really good blog post. So as not to
rankle any more feathers than I already have, I'm not touching number one with
a ten-foot poll. But, I will take on number two.
There is nothing illegal about paying a "day rate"-that
is, a flat sum for a day's work, without regard to the number of hours worked.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, a day rate simply affects how an employer
must calculate an employee's regular hourly rate of pay for a work week. An
employer calculates the regular rate for an employee paid a day rate by
totaling all the sums received at such day rates in the work week and dividing
by the total hours actually worked. As with any non-exempt employee, that regular
rate cannot fall below the minimum wage. And, if an employee paid a day rate
works more than 40 hours in a given week, the employer must pay time-and-a-half
on top of the regular rate for any hours worked over 40.
Simple enough, even for a Jewish boy like me.
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