Caregivers for the elderly are regularly asked to provide overnight care to their clients when working 24-hour shifts. Often, caregivers supervise, monitor and provide assistance during the night. Overnight care is necessary for many patients who suffer from dementia, wake up confused or disoriented, or have trouble going to the bathroom on their own. The label of “sleep-time” is often inaccurate, because patients get up so often the caregiver must wake up several times each night and does not get consistent sleep. Without overnight care, many patients would need to be placed in group homes.
Many private employers incorrectly believe that since a caregiver is allowed to sleep, and provided a place to stay, they do not have to pay for the overnight supervision and coverage caregivers provide. The idea that caregivers who work in private residences do not have to be paid for time spent sleeping is contrary to California law. In-home caregivers must be paid for all hours they are required to remain on the premises, under the control of their employer, even if they are sleeping, inactive, watching television or surfing the net. That means if you are not allowed to leave at night, you must be paid for all overnight hours.
Many employers require the presence of the caregivers at night, but when faced with a claim for unpaid overnight wages, argue the caregiver stayed at the home for their own benefit, not the client’s benefit. To limit liability, employers typically claim the caregivers did not have a place to live, did not want to drive home or simply enjoyed staying at the residence. These claims are typically lies and ignore the economic vulnerability that forces many caregivers to work overnight without pay.
If you are a 24-hour in-home caregiver and paid a day rate you likely have a very valuable claim for unpaid overtime. For example, if you are a caregiver working 24-hours a day, 4 days a week, for a day rate of $270, your daily unpaid overtime claim is $675. The day rate of $270 does not pay for any of the 15 daily overtime hours you work. Under this example, the regular rate of pay is $30/hour and the overtime rate is $45/hour. (15 x $45 = $675) Liquidated damages for a willful failure to pay overtime could add an additional $157.50 a day to the claim. Plus, the law provides for interest, attorneys fees, and penalties.
In the above example, the hypothetical caregiver is owed over $3,300 per week. On a yearly basis, the claim exceeds $165,000. We have helped many caregivers whose claims exceed $500,000 in potential damages when working several years.
The best way to keep your employer honest is document your time worked. Text or email your employer if you are awakened and working at night. Keep a daily time log of activities showing the work you performed at night caring for the patient. If you have emails or text messages from your employer, you should always save them. Save every communication, no matter how trivial it may seem, because it may end up being the most valuable piece of evidence in your claim.
Caregivers working in Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly may also be entitled to compensation for sleep time when required to work at night or supervise patients while they sleep. There are limited circumstances where facilities are legally permitted to deduct sleep time. In reality, many facilities do not meet the requirements to deduct sleep time from hours worked and owe the caregivers compensation for hours worked providing overnight coverage.
If you are a 24-hour caregiver who is not paid sleep time and required to remain on the premises overnight, you may have a valuable claim. The lawyers at Chaleff Rehwald have litigated the issue of sleep time for in-home and facility caregivers many times. We know the law and have detailed strategies to pursue these claims. Often, we are able to resolve claims without going to court. Our attorneys want to hear from you to learn more about your claim. Call us now for a free consultation. (818) 807-4168
This article is an attorney advertisement written by Daniel Chaleff, employment law attorney at Chaleff Rehwald in Woodland Hills. Our examples are of a general nature and are not a guarantee regarding the outcome of your individual matter. The law firm focuses on caregiver rights. Please call us at (818) 807-4168 for a free and confidential consultation. Or visit us at www.cr.legal/ebook to learn more about caregiver overtime law. We offer a 24-hour chat line on our website.