How payroll works for senior care overnight and 24-hour shifts
The federal sleep time exemption can lower your care costs and limit overtime hours
When you’re looking for care for an elderly loved one, it’s important to understand the type of care they need. Many seniors require assistance around the clock, which can make managing payroll more complicated. These high-hour cases require an understanding of federal wage & hour law so you don’t accidentally make a mistake calculating your caregiver’s pay.
“Senior caregivers hired privately to work in someone’s home are categorized as non-exempt workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act,” says Eva MacCleery, Director of Care.com HomePay. “This means they must be paid overtime for all hours worked over 40 in a 7-day work week.”
How you can save money if your senior caregiver works more than 40 hours per week
In many senior care cases requiring care continuity, the caregiver lives at the family member’s home. Federal law exempts live-in employees from overtime pay, but they must be paid for every hour worked. Keep in mind that several states (CA, HI, MA, MD, ME, MN, NJ, NV, NY and OR) have special overtime laws for live-in employees. You can check the specific requirements in these states here.
Note: Live-in status can also be defined as an employee that is at the jobsite for at least five 24-hour shifts each week.
Additionally, if you need around-the-clock care, you may want to structure your shifts to capitalize on the federal sleep time exemption for 24-hour shifts. If your senior caregiver has a 24-hour shift and is able to sleep at least 5 hours continuously, the caregiver’s sleep time (up to 8 hours) can be exempted, which reduces a 24-hour day to only 16 hours of compensation.
Note: To exclude sleep time from compensation, your caregiver must have adequate sleeping facilities and agree to this arrangement in writing. If you live in California, you cannot exempt sleep time at all.
Three examples of how a high-hour shift might play out
You need a caregiver to work two consecutive 24-hour shifts to supplement the care that your family provides. Your caregiver is not paid for 16 hours of sleeping time during the 48 hours they are on-the-job. Their pay at the end of the week will reflect 32 hours (two 16-hour days) at their regular hourly rate.
You require your caregiver to work three 24-hour shifts as part of a full-time eldercare team. They do not have to be paid for 24 hours of sleep time during the 72 hours they are working, but they must be paid overtime because they worked more than 40 hours for the week. Therefore you will need to pay your caregiver for 40 regular hours and 8 overtime hours.
Your loved one needs 24/7 care, which requires you to hire a live-in caregiver. They work about 12 hours per day so their paycheck is calculated based on 84 hours per week. These hours are paid at their regular rate of pay because of the overtime exemption for live-in employees. You do not have to pay your caregiver for the 12 non-working hours each day as long as they are able to sleep and come and go as they please. If they’re not working, but required to stay at the house if your loved one needs something, they’re considered on-call and working.
These scenarios don’t cover every situation, but they should provide insight on how to apply the law in common around-the-clock care situations. If you have questions about your specific care needs, just give us a call at (888) 273-3356. We’re here to help!
Get started with HomePay!
Already enrolled with HomePay? Log in
First things first—have you hired a caregiver?
If you're seeking a caregiver or a care job, visit Care.com
What type of caregiver have you hired?
Have you already made any payments to your caregiver?
If you've made payments, we'll help you track them and we'll provide your employee with pay stubs.