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National Wage and Hour Clearinghouse

Caregivers are protected by wage and hour laws

Monday, September 22, 2008

September 21st, 2008

CAREGIVERS ARE PROTECTED BY WAGE AND HOUR LAWS
By Caesar S. Natividad, Esq.
In the past year, I had the privilege of representing caregivers of board and care facilities in wage claims against their employers. This article is meant to share with the readers some of the lessons I learned.
Board and care homes, also known as residential care facilities for the elderly ("RCFE"), are businesses that provide assistance to elderly individuals in their day-to-day living. In exchange for a monthly pay, the resident customers are provided board and lodging. The board and care homes are usually licensed to serve a maximum of six residents at any given time. Oftentimes, there are two caregivers who assist these residents from the time the resident customers wake up until the time that they go to sleep.

The Department of Social Welfare is the government agency that oversees these facilities. Before the DSW issues a license to run and operate an RCFE, the operator goes through a rigid licensing process including a physical inspection of the facility, and a careful review of a program. The DSW requires that there be 24-hour supervision of the facility.

What I found out is that some employers of caregivers in board and care homes do not pay the proper wages and overtime premiums as required by law. Some of them do not keep a record of time worked by the employees, and still others do not provide their employees pay stubs that detail the gross pay, the number of hours worked, the rates of pay, and the deductions. These employers are in violation of the wage and hour laws of California, not to mention federal labor laws. What the operators of these facilities seem to forget is that the laws governing minimum wages and overtime premiums apply to caregivers, too.

California law sets a minimum wage of $6.75 per hour. In addition, if an employee works more than eight hours a day, then she must be paid overtime premiums. If an employee works more than eight hours in a day, she must be paid time and a half for work in excess of eight hours, up to twelve hours. Beyond twelve hours, the employee should be paid double the hourly rate. THESE WAGE AND HOUR LAWS APPLY TO CAREGIVERS!

What I learned is that most of the caregivers are paid a fixed amount, ranging from $800 to $1,200 per month. In return, the caregiver usually works six days a week, starting at 5:00 a.m. when the residents start waking up, until 10:00 p.m. when the residents go to sleep. In some cases, the caretaker wakes up several times in the night to take care of a resident customer. In such a situation, the caregiver has not been paid the proper wages, and is entitled to back pay of regular pay and overtime premiums.

If you work now or have worked in the past as a caregiver in a board and care facility, and have not been paid for work beyond eight hours, you probably are entitled to payment of unpaid wages, as well as attorney fees and costs if you prevail in your wage claim.


The above article is not a legal advice. Each matter involves specific facts upon which different laws may be applicable. If you, a family member or a friend worked as a caregiver in a board and care facility and think that you may not have been paid the proper wages and overtime premiums, it is wise to consult with an attorney right away. You may call our office The Natividad Law Firm at (213) 355-2885 or (909) 348-5970 for a free consultation.


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