EMR/EHR trainers who are paid on an hourly basis may be legally entitled to overtime pay. Straight time for all hours worked has been a common compensation scheme for trainers and has resulted in numerous claims and large settlements in which the companies that employ them have paid millions in back wages.
Hospitals and all types of health care facilities are scrambling to implement Electronic Medical Record / Electronic Health Record systems such as Epic, Cerner, eClinicalWorks, McKesson, Allscripts and Athenahealth. In order to do so effectively, these facilities need to train their staff members on how to use these new medical record systems. This has created a very healthy market for individuals with expertise and certifications in using these software packages who are able to provide the much needed training to help with a smooth implementation.
Many EMR/EHR trainers and Training Consultants are employed by staffing companies or consulting firms that have created a lucrative business niche providing experienced trainers to the health care industry. Frequently, the trainers are hired by a company on a “contract”, “project” or “temporary” basis and paid on an hourly basis. The hourly rates for EMR/EHR trainer jobs can range from $40 – $100 per hour and they are often required to work well beyond 40 hours per week. This raises the issue of a trainer’s legal entitlement to overtime pay.
From what we have seen at our firm, it is quiet common for hourly paid training consultants to receive straight time pay for overtime instead of time and a-half their regular hourly rate (eg $50/hour for all hours worked instead of $75/hour for overtime hours). In most situations, this is a likely violation of the federal wage and hour regulations, and depending on where the trainer works, also a violation of state labor laws on overtime pay. For example, under California’s overtime pay law, EMR/EHR trainers employed in the state may be entitled to overtime pay starting after 8 hours per day and double time after 12 hours per day – in addition to the 40 hour per week norm.
When a trainer inquires as to why they are not receiving overtime pay, the answers appear to be along the lines of:
- Your contract states that you will not be paid a higher rate for overtime hours;
- You are a “temp” or “temporary” employee, so you don’t get overtime;
- Paying overtime at your rate would be too expensive for the company;
- You are an “exempt” employee because you make over $100,000 per year;
- You are an “exempt” employee because you are a teacher; or
- You are an “exempt” employee because you are a computer professional
In the vast majority of instances, all of the above explanations are FALSE and are not legal excuses to deny an employee the overtime pay they are entitled to. The following is a brief explanation as to why.
- You can’t sign away or waive your legal right to receive overtime pay. Merely signing an agreement does not change the law – if your job does not meet the necessary requirements for an exemption, it is “non-exempt” and must be paid overtime.
- While a common misconception, being employed on a temporary or project basis does not mean that the overtime pay laws do not apply to the job. If you are an employee working in a non-exempt job, overtime must be paid regardless of how long the job is intended to last.
- It’s too expensive to pay you overtime is never a valid excuse.
- While there is an exemption provided for certain highly compensated employees who earn at least $100,000 per year, this exemption requires that the employee be paid a guaranteed weekly salary. If paid hourly with no guaranteed minimum salary, this exemption cannot apply, regardless of how much an employee may end up earning per year in hourly pay.
- Teachers who are employed in an “educational establishment” can be exempt from the overtime laws. However, unless a hospital or health care facility qualifies as an educational establishment, this exemption cannot be used to avoid liability for payment of overtime wages.
- The computer employee exemption only applies to computer systems analysts, computer programmers, software engineers, and other similarly skilled workers in the computer field – not employees whose work is highly dependent upon, or facilitated by, the use of computers and computer software programs.
If you are employed as an hourly paid EMR/EHR trainer or Training Consultant and are not receiving at least time and a half for all hours worked over 40 per week (or over 8 hours per day in California), you owe it to yourself to find out if you are being illegally deprived of overtime pay. The dollar amounts at stake can be substantial and you may be entitled to recover up to double the amount of your back unpaid wages.
Law firms like ours provide free and confidential consultations and handle overtime claims across the country (on a contingent fee basis), so there is absolutely no up-front cost for employees to pursue their claims. A contingent fee is only earned and owed once a recovery has been obtained on behalf of the client(s).
If you have any doubts as to your entitlement to overtime, contact the overtime pay experts at The Lore Law Firm for a FREE and CONFIDENTIAL review of your circumstances – because it’s your time and your money.