If you are a caregiver, providing care to an individual inside their private home, special laws exist to protect you from wage theft. Wage theft occurs when an employer fails to pay an employee the legally required overtime and minimum wages. In 2014 the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights (“DWBR”) became law. This law means that in-home caregivers are entitled to receive overtime payments for all hours worked in excess of 9 in a day or 45 in a week.
In 2019, most 24-hour caregivers must be paid a minimum of $346.50 per day so comply with the DWBR. The first 9 hours of work can be paid at the minimum wage of $11, for $99. Then, the law requires overtime payments of $16.50 per hour for the remaining 15 hours, for an additional $247.50. This equals $346.50 per day. Most caregivers receive far less than that, often earning as little as $120 to $180 per day. A 24-hour caregiver who is earning less than $346.50 per day likely has a very valuable claim.
For example, if you are a caregiver working 24-hours a day, 5 days a week, for a salary of $800 a week ($160 a day), your weekly unpaid overtime claim is calculated as follows: Your weekly salary of $800 is divided by 40 hours to calculate a regular rate of $20 an hour. Your overtime rate is 1.5 times your regular rate, $30 an hour.
Your salary does not pay any of the 15 daily overtime hours you worked, so each day you have an unpaid overtime claim of $450. Liquidated damages for a willful failure to pay overtime could add an additional $165.00 a day to the claim. Plus, the law provides for interest, attorneys fees, and penalties for former workers.
For this one week, this hypothetical caregiver has a claim of over $3,000. On a yearly basis, the claim exceeds $150,000. We have helped many caregivers whose claims exceed $500,000 in potential damages when working several years.
Caregivers can file claims going back 4 years from the date a lawsuit is filed. We have helped many caregivers file claims against their former employers. Even if you last worked in 2016, you still have time to pursue a claim. The one exception, if your patient has passed away, a claim against the patient’s estate must be filed within 1 year of the passing, or sooner if an estate has been opened.
In our experience, some caregivers are hesitant to move forward with claims because they are concerned about their immigration status, or agreed to work for a day rate below minimum wage. In California, undocumented workers are still entitled to overtime and have equal access to justice through the legal system. Also, even if a caregiver agreed to a day rate below the minimum wage, the law does not allow the parties to agree to a lower wage.
Other caregivers fear the legal process, feel obligated to their patients or agreed to work as an independent contractor. All of these concerns are addressed in our article, Top 7 Concerns Caregivers Have in Asserting an Unpaid Overtime Claim, available on our website at www.cr.legal/top .
If you are a caregiver working 24-hour shifts and are receiving less than $315 per day, we would love to talk to you about your legal rights. We provide compassionate and confidential consultations. Please contact us for a free consultation at (818) 807-4168.
This article is an attorney advertisement written by Daniel Chaleff, employment law attorney at Chaleff Rehwald in Woodland Hills. 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 to learn more about caregiver overtime law. We offer a 24-hour chat line on our website.