For employers who run assisted living facilities, it’s critical that proper employee compensation guidelines are followed, especially when it comes to overtime pay. Each year, wage violations in the healthcare industry continue to rise, and healthcare workers are often underpaid and overworked.
The Wage Case at the St. James Home for the Elderly
Forty healthcare workers at the St. James Home for the Elderly in Southern California are receiving more than $103,000 in back wages. This news comes after federal investigators from the U.S. Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division uncovered recordkeeping and overtime violations. These investigators found that employees from seven St. James facilities had been paid for their scheduled hours; however, they were not paid for any extra care given to patients or other work-related responsibilities performed outside of their normal hours. Not only was there no compensation for the hours worked outside of the regular forty hour workweek, but the St. James facilities did not keep an accurate record of the hours their employees worked. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, the overtime and recordkeeping provisions had been violated.
Duties and Salaries of Caregivers in Assisted Living
As one of the fastest growing professions in the medical and healthcare industry, caregiver jobs are projected to grow 70.5 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. While this area of work is popular, it is also extremely demanding and time-consuming. Nearly 97 percent of these workers regularly perform other duties and tasks that aren’t part of their regular job requirements. Caregivers in assisted living communities are responsible for helping the chronically ill, the disabled, and other residents that need help with daily activities such as using the bathroom, bathing, dressing, and cooking. Caregivers also assist with recreational, social, and physical activities.
While the position is taxing, there are definite benefits for caregivers, including:
- Flexible schedules (both part-time and full-time)
- Extensive training provided
- No medical skills or experience required
- Personally and professionally rewarding
Specific skills necessary for the job:
- Be able to perform physically demanding duties
- Be open and friendly, as working with older adults usually requires more patience and compassion
- Be able to help with exercises, medication administration, and basic services such as recording temperature and pulse
- Be able to perform some housekeeping duties
Compared to other healthcare jobs, the salary of assisted living employees is usually lower. As of 2012, the median salary for assisted living employees was $20,820, whereas nursing aides made $25,620, medical assistants made $30,550, and physical therapist assistants made $52,320. With a lower salary for a demanding job, healthcare workers at assisted living facilities need to be properly compensated for all of their hours, especially overtime.
Caregiver Wage Abuse
Wage abuse may happen more frequently at assisted living facilities because elderly care can often require 24-hour attention from caregivers. Thus, working overtime hours is often necessary and unavoidable. It’s estimated that workers lose about $2,634 annually because of workplace violations. Not being paid minimum wage or for working during a break/lunch hour, not getting paid overtime hours, and being falsely labeled as an exempt employee are common examples of wage abuse that employees often face.
If You’re Worried Your Employer Is Violating Overtime Pay Regulations
As a healthcare worker, you deserve to be paid for all of the hours you’ve put in at your job. If you think your employer is denying you the wages you are owed, please contact one of our wage and hour lawyers at Kennedy Hodges L.L.P. to schedule a free consultation. Don’t forget to order our free guide, The 10 Biggest Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Wage and Overtime Claim. This book will provide you with valuable information about your wage claim!