Can housing be the only compensation if you are required to live where you work?

We are considered caretakers and our duties include set-up and clean-up of meals (B,L,D), nights and most weekends. Also, sometimes we have to do room set-ups, emptying trash, greeting guests, managing staff on occasion and working with the occasional vendor/caterer. We are not compensated in any way but housing.

Asked on August 18, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

This should be legal, so long as the value of the housing you are getting (the fair market value; i.e. what it would cost to rent such housing) equals or exceeds what you would earn at minimum wage for working the number of hours you work. So, for example, minimum wage is current $7.25 per hour. Say you work 30 hours per week, which would earn you $217.25 per week, or approximately $870 - $900 per month. If the value of the housing (the fair rental value) is at least $900 or so per month, in this example, it would seem to be legal. If on the other hand the fair value is below what you would earn at minimum, the you should be paid as well.


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