Take Care to Learn the Changing Rules for Hiring and Paying Elder Caregivers

California’s strict employment laws pose threats to unsuspecting elders; at the same time, caregivers are being deprived of their rights.

 

By Scott Rahn and David Greco / 

A caregiver can make it much easier to care for an elderly loved one—but hiring a caregiver can be trickier than you’d expect.

There are many employment laws to understand, some of which will change in 2020—such as a new ban on arbitration clauses in contracts.

Here’s what you need to know.

 

An Overview of Caregiver Compensation and Working Conditions

California employment law is the strictest in the country. It imposes requirements for when and how an employee is compensated, may take a break, or can utilize sick time. California also imposes serious penalties for employers who violate these laws—including penalties payable to the state as well as employees. A mistake can cost an employer thousands of dollars.

Within that complex web of laws, elder caregivers are subject to some exceptions because of the nature of their work. But those exceptions do not leave the minefield of labor law any less treacherous for the unsuspecting employer—or the unsuspecting customer of a caregiving company.

Eldercare refers to the nurses, caregivers, and assistants who help seniors and others who need assistance with basic daily care needs, including bill paying bills, feeding, clothing, washing, and home maintenance. Live-in caregivers are entitled to 12 consecutive off-duty hours each day except in certain emergency situations. They get three hours of nonconsecutive, off-duty break time during a 12-hour shift. The law also requires that they receive 24 hours off duty after every five days of work, except in certain emergencies.

Non-live-in caregivers are entitled to meal and rest breaks. Their unpaid, 30-minute, off-duty meal break for shifts over five hours must begin before the end of the fifth hour of work. If the shift exceeds 10 hours, the caregiver gets a second 30-minute, off-duty break.

California mandates that an employee’s pay stub must include an employee ID number or the last four digits of the employee’s Social Security number, the exact number of hours worked, all rates of pay, the pay period, and the payer’s address.

 

Who Is an Employer—and Why Does It Matter?

In California, “employer” has three definitions. An employer is anyone who:

(1) “Suffers or permits” another to perform work, which means anyone who knowingly allows another person to perform work on their behalf;

(2) Exercises control over the working conditions of the worker; or

(3) Contracts with the worker to create an employment relationship.

If a court determines that a person or entity meets any one of the three definitions, the person or entity is required to comply with the strict laws that California imposes…

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