By Inés Cruz and LaDonna Lusher
According to the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, during the second week of November, the community celebrates nurses, home care aids, therapists, and social workers that work daily to assist patients and their relatives.

Virginia & Ambinder, LLP joins in celebrating the noble people that perform home care service, and would like to thank all home care workers for their hard work and dedication. Along with this celebration, we would also like to invite home care workers to be aware of their labor law rights. Home care workers are often taken advantage of by their employers, and through our experience, we have helped them recover unpaid wages and benefits that, unfortunately, were not paid for the work they performed.

Sadly, the Latin community is one of the most affected when it comes to wage theft.  The reasons for this vary, but economic need and unfamiliarity with labor law rights are two factors.  We would like to share some of the rights home care workers have under the labor law and actions that can be taken to protect your rights. Some of these rights include, but are not limited to:

  1. Home care workers must be paid at least the statutory minimum wage rate for every hour that they work. The minimum wage rate is established by each State.
  2. Home care workers must also be paid overtime compensation at 1.5 times their hourly rate when they work more than 40 hours per week. In New York City, if employees work more than 10 hours per day, they may be entitled to one extra hour of pay at the minimum wage rate. * (please review the blog related to spread of hours).
  3. Sometimes home care aides work “24 hour shifts” or “live-in shifts” where they stay at their patient’s home overnight.  When home care workers perform 24 hour shifts, they must receive a minimum of 3 one-hour meal breaks per shift, and 8 hours of sleep (5 hours of this sleep must be uninterrupted).  If home care workers do not receive these sleep and meal breaks, they are entitled to be paid for all 24 hours of their shifts.
  4. Home care workers are also entitled to be paid for any time that they spend in training.
  5. Home care workers are also entitled to be reimbursed for any uniforms or supplies (such as soap, towels, gloves, etc.) that they have to purchase to  perform their job.  Their employer is also required to pay for the maintenance of their uniform.
  6. Home care workers are required to be paid for any time they spend traveling between patients if they work for more than one patient in the same work day.

Actions you can take if you would like to make sure that you are being paid correctly, or would like to recover your unpaid wages:

  1. Keep a record of the hours that you work, any shifts you worked and did not receive your required breaks, and any supplies you purchased.
  2. Keep an eye on your paystubs and the information displayed on it. Check that your paystub matches the hours you worked and if your hourly rate is correct.
  3. Keep all important documents and records that your receive from the employer (paystubs, letters about benefits, etc.).  It is important that you know the name and address of the company that you work for.
  4. Keep any receipt of the expenses for purchases you have made in order to be able to do your job.

If you have any questions about your labor law rights, you can always contact Virginia & Ambinder, LLP. We are here to help you.  All consultations are free and confidential. We speak Spanish.

Congratulations! We thank you for your important work and valuable service!