Home healthcare can be grueling and difficult work. Workers often take ten to twelve hour shifts, sometimes six or seven days a week. They are responsible for providing close, personal care to elderly, sick, or recovering patients who need assistance in almost every facet of life. To make matters worse, many home healthcare companies refuse to pay overtime no matter how many hours their employees work. This is unfair, and against the law. Home healthcare workers have every legal right to claim overtime pay for work over forty hours in a week. At Stiegler Law Firm, we have represented several home healthcare workers and worked hard to ensure that they received the overtime pay which they had rightfully earned. We may be able to help you too.
Home Healthcare Workers Have Overtime Rights
There are two common ways that companies try to avoid overtime payment to home healthcare workers. First, they may pay a set hourly rate no matter how many hours are worked. Second, they may pay a flat fee per visit or per shift. (In either case, the company will also sometimes commit independent contractor misclassification – which is itself illegal.) But neither of these pay plans complies with federal overtime law, which requires companies to pay time-and-a-half the worker’s regular hourly rate for hours worked past forty in a workweek. Many home healthcare workers are therefore entitled to claim back overtime pay for the long hours which they worked, for the past two or three years.
The most common home healthcare worker overtime violation is “straight time for overtime.” This is a basic scheme where the company pays straight time for all hours worked, even including overtime shifts. For example, a home healthcare worker may work 5 shifts of 12 hours each — 60 hours in a week. If she receives a regular hourly rate of $12 an hour, she should receive 40 hours at $12 an hour, and 20 overtime hours at $18 an hour. That is $120 in unpaid overtime just for that one week, not taking into account potential penalties she can receive. Those sums add up over the weeks and months.
The “flat fee” pay scheme is slightly trickier. The company will pay a set rate, say $120, for each home healthcare shift worked. It is not illegal to pay a flat rate per shift, for hours under forty. But once an employee hits 40 hours in a week, the company must account for overtime pay as to those additional hours. Many companies don’t, which results in underpaid overtime. If you believe you are being underpaid overtime due to a flat rate pay scheme, it is very important that you begin writing down and recording your hours, so you have a good record of how long you are working. While it is the company’s responsibility to keep those records, they often drop the ball, which means that your own records may be the only written evidence you have of how many hours you’ve actually worked.
The reason unpaid overtime is so common in the home healthcare industry is simple – years ago, it was legal not to pay overtime to home healthcare workers. However, that law was changed in 2015 – nearly a decade ago – and the current law states that any home healthcare worker who works for a “third party” such as a home healthcare provider must receive overtime pay. Even many years later, too many companies either did not get this message, or do not think it applies to them. As a result, many home healthcare workers are still not receiving the overtime pay they are legitimately owed.
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Penalties for unpaid home healthcare worker overtime can include back wages, statutory penalties, and attorneys fees. If you believe you have been shorted overtime pay, click here to contact New Orleans overtime lawyer Charles Stiegler today, or call (504) 267-0777. The consultation is free. This is your money, you have worked for it, and you have earned it. We may be able to help you get it back.