Letter: Peaceful Living owner offers more information on wages, hoursThe Rivertown papers published an article on-line and in-print regarding Peaceful Living’s violation of overtime compensation and denial of minimum wages based on a press release that was issued. There are some inaccuracies that need to be clarified.
By: Irene Pregl, Hudson, Hudson Star-Observer
Editor’s note: The following letter was sent to the U.S. Dept. of Labor Wage & Hour Division. The letter is responding to a news release sent to the Star-Observer by the federal agency that was published in the May 10 Star-Observer. The May 10 news release was essentially printed as received from the agency.
The Rivertown papers published an article on-line and in-print regarding Peaceful Living’s violation of overtime compensation and denial of minimum wages based on a press release that was issued. There are some inaccuracies that need to be clarified.
First, Peaceful Living only has six adult family homes in the St. Croix County, Wisconsin, area. We do provide 24-hour care to our clients that reside at these homes. In addition, Peaceful Living does provide some 24-hour care to residents in their private homes. Peaceful Living also provides direct care to close to 100 clients in their homes through St. Croix, Pierce, Polk, Dunn and Barren counties in Wisconsin and Washington County in Minnesota. Peaceful Living has been in business for nine years and employs over 140 local individuals.
Second, the investigation by the Department of Labor had occurred in 2011, almost six months ago, and had been closed by the U.S. Department of Labor. The denial of minimum wage and the improper compensation of work during overnight were in question, but determined that Peaceful Living was in compliance. The subject of the violation was with overtime compensation, time and a half pay beyond 40 hours in a week that had occurred with the 24-hour locations.
The average base rate is $8.50 to $9 per hour, pending the location an employee works. Peaceful Living has and does pay minimum wage for all required training and all overnight compensation during a 24-hour shift. During an annual routine audit of employee wage, hours and personal documentation, the error that resulted in the miscalculation of overtime compensation was discovered. Peaceful Living then began a more in-depth internal audit, prior to the U.S. Department of Labor beginning its investigation. Peaceful Living provided the company’s findings to the U.S. Department of Labor which aided in an expedited investigation.
Third, employees that work at the 24-hour location were paid a stipend for the 24-hour shift per a legal agreement that was signed by the employee in compliance with regulations. The agreement outlined that employees would be paid a stipend per a 24-hour period with the exclusion of an eight-hour sleep time. During the eight hours of sleep time, if an employee was called to duty, the interruption was counted as hours worked and was paid at minimum wage. Documentation for all interrupted time was documented by employees and compensated. Peaceful Living does keep accurate records of all employees’ wage, hours and other conditions of employment.
All of this said, Peaceful Living acknowledges its mistake with overtime compensation and has worked hard with the U.S. Department of Labor to rectify the inaccuracy. I would like to emphasize that Peaceful Living takes its responsibility to our employees very seriously. We acknowledge that all our employees are valued and make a difference with the clients that they care.
Irene Pregl, Hudson
Owner, Peaceful Living