Q: “I work with a propertycompany who hires current tenants to work around the property, cleaning or doing outside work. They are currently compensated with a monthly rent credit. They put in as many hours as is necessary to get the job done, which could put them over 40 hours in a week. They sign a contract with the company to do this. Are there any issues with doing this? Should they be hired on and paid as an employee?” – Susan, Michigan
A: Housing costs may be treated as part of an employee’s wage as long as the housing is for the employee’s benefit. If you have workers who are being given a rent credit in exchange for a discount on rent, these individuals are going to be considered employees as a matter of state or federal law. They must be paid at least the minimum wage for their services. Depending on the work and the fair market value of the housing, your arrangement may or may not meet the requirements of the law in individual circumstances. I’d suggest having your contract reviewed by a lawyer who is familiar with the wage payment laws of your jurisdiction, and revising as necessary to ensure that your arrangements meet the requirements of those laws.