The work of a caregiver is extremely important to the individuals who live in the community, as well to their families who are given peace of mind knowing that their loved ones are being cared for adequately.

What is less obvious, but equally important, is that our loved ones’ caregivers deserve to receive fair and adequate compensation. However, too frequently we see employers failing to pay caregivers, med techs and other employees working in retirement communities the wages that they are owed as mandated by federal wage laws (i.e., the Fair Labor Standards Act).

If you work overtime in a retirement home, here are four things to know.

1. What am I required to be paid?

Currently, the federal minimum wage in the U.S. is $7.25 an hour. Therefore, your employer must pay you at a rate of at least $7.25 for every hour worked up to 40 hours in a workweek.

2. Am I entitled to overtime pay?

Yes! As a caregiver or med tech working in a retirement home, you are entitled to one and a half times your regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a single workweek.

Therefore, if you are paid $7.25 an hour, your overtime pay (all hours over 40 in a workweek) is $10.88 an hour. This is true even if your employer pays you a day rate, salary or other non-hourly rate of pay.

*Note that if you are paid more than $7.25 an hour, your employer is still required to pay you one and a half times your regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a work week.

3. What if I work at multiple locations?

If you work at multiple locations or receive multiple paychecks for a pay period, it is possible that your employers could be classified as “joint employers.” Joint employment exists where two (or more) employers benefit from an employee’s work, and the employers are sufficiently related to or associated with each other. For example:

  • The employers have an arrangement to share an employee’s services;
  • one employer acts in the interest of the other in relation to the employee; or
  • the employers share control of the employee, directly or indirectly, because one employer controls, is controlled by or is under common control with the other employer.

Joint employment is quite detailed, but it’s important for caregivers in retirement homes to be aware of and understand it, because if you work for multiple locations or receive paychecks from multiple entities, you may not be receiving the pay you’re owed under the law.

Therefore, in short, if your employers are joint employers, they must combine all of the hours you worked in a workweek to determine if you worked for more than 40 hours and are due overtime pay.

4. What if I am paid a day rate?

If you are paid a “day rate” as an employee, you are paid a flat amount for each day worked. However, even if you are paid a day rate, your employer is still required by law to pay overtime for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

Therefore, if you are a caregiver or med tech and you are paid a day rate, you are only being compensated for up to 40 hours in a workweek, and are due an additional hourly overtime rate for every hour worked over 40 in a workweek.

Note that there are exemptions to the overtime laws, and therefore it is possible that some employees at retirement homes will not be entitled to minimum wage or overtime pay.

If you have questions about your wages or overtime pay, you should call an experienced wage and overtime attorney to discuss your questions.