Many employers in Maine and around the country jointly employ workers. For example, the relationships between staffing companies and their clients are often designed so that the staffing company and the client jointly employ the workers who perform work for the client. In these situations, there are special rules for determining how jointly employed workers become eligible for leave under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the companion Maine family medical leave law, as well as for overtime pay under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the companion Maine overtime law.
The U.S. Department of Labor recently published new FMLA guidance to help employers and workers determine what their obligations and rights are when there is a joint employment relationship. For example, employers with fewer than 50 employees normally do not have to provide FMLA leave to their employees. However, if two employers jointly employ workers, both employers must count the jointly employed workers for purposes of determining whether they have 50 employees. If these jointly employed workers push the employers over the 50 employee threshold, they will have to provide FMLA leave to their employees when the employees become eligible for FMLA leave.
Another scenario where joint employment sometimes occurs is when a worker performs work for two companies that are owned and managed by the same people. For example, a nurse could work for two nursing homes in the same week putting in 25 hours at each nursing home. If those nursing homes jointly employ the nurse because, for example, the same people own and manage the nursing homes, that nurse is entitled to overtime pay because she worked 50 hours that week. The U.S. Department of Labor also recently issued guidance on the FLSA to help employers and workers determine whether joint employment exists for purposes of, for instance, determining eligibility for overtime pay.
As you will see when you look at the Department of Labor’s guidance, it can sometimes be difficult to determine whether you are jointly employed by multiple employers. It is also sometimes difficult to determine the obligations that each employer has toward you when multiple employers jointly employ you. For that reason, it is a good idea to contact an experienced employment lawyer, such as the lawyers at the Maine Employee Rights Group, if you believe you’re in a joint employment relationship and you think you should be entitled to FMLA leave, overtime pay, or other legal entitlements that you are not receiving.