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Home Care Workers and Minimum Wage, Overtime

I’m a home care worker.  Can my boss deny me minimum wage and overtime?

No.  Home Caregivers who work for companies (not the person in need of care) are entitled to overtime pay from the corporation who employs them.  This rule has now be in force since January 1, 2015 although some companies continue to violate it.  One group of workers particularly harmed by these violations are “live in” caregivers.  These workers live with the person in need of care.  They must be paid at least 13 hours per day at the minimum wage.  They are given 8 hours for sleeping and 3 one hour meal breaks.  Some employers pay for only 10 hours per day.  Furthermore, if the worker doesn’t get at least 5 hours of continuous sleep, then they should be paid for the whole 8 hour sleep shift.

For example, lets say the person in need of care needs to use the bathroom frequently during the night.  The caregiver might have to wake up frequently to help the person get out of bed and use the bathroom.  If these sleep interruptions prevent the caregiver from getting 5 hours in a row of uninterrupted sleep time, then they are owed at least the minimum or overtime wage for their entire 8 hour sleep shift.

Some employers fail to provide adequate forms or procedures to document these interruptions.  They sometimes provide time sheets that simply don’t leave room to document these interruptions.  Since the duty to record all work time is on the employer, time sheets like these can violate the law and lead to liability for back wages.  In Connecticut, workers can sue for back wages for up to two years.  Under the Federal law (FLSA), you can sue for a 3rd year if the employer’s violation is “willfull.” The Department of Labor has a helpful page further summarizing some of the FLSA protections.

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