Many families hire caregivers and homecare workers to assist elderly or disabled members of their families. Caregivers and homecare workers are protected by federal and state laws governing minimum wage and overtime pay. 

In California, these workers are entitled to overtime pay. Understanding overtime pay for homecare workers and caregivers is vital for employers and employees who wish to avoid wage and hour disputes.

Who is Considered a Caregiver or Homecare Worker?

The California Department of Industrial Relations defines domestic workers as anyone who provides services related to the care of a person in the home. Domestic workers also include individuals who provide services to maintain private households and premises.

Domestic workers include, but are not limited to:

  • Personal attendants
  • Nannies
  • Housekeepers
  • Adult caregivers
  • Childcare providers
  • Chefs and cooks
  • Maids
  • Outdoor maintenance employees and gardeners
  • Babysitters (over the age of 18 years)
  • Other household employees and staff members

Family members, children under 18 years of age, casual babysitters, and anyone who provides services through a child care act or voucher program are not considered homecare workers. Therefore, they would not be entitled to minimum wage or overtime pay. 

How Much is Minimum Wage for Homecare Workers and Caregivers?

If you employ someone in your home to care for yourself or another family member, you must follow California’s minimum wage laws. As of 2022, the current minimum wage is $14 per hour for employers with 25 employees or less. The minimum wage increases to $15 per hour on January 1, 2024. 

However, some cities have enacted minimum wage requirements that may be higher than the state minimum wage. Therefore, it is wise to check with local governments to ensure that you pay your homecare workers and caregivers the correct minimum wage. Failing to obey minimum wage laws could result in costly fines and penalties for the employer. 

What is the Overtime Rate for Homecare Workers and Caregivers in California?

Unpaid overtime is a common problem many California workers encounter. The overtime rate is based on the worker’s average hourly rate and whether the person is considered a personal attendant. 

A personal attendant spends most of their time caring for and supervising a child or adult who needs assistance because of a physical disability, mental deficiency, or advanced age. If workers spend more than 20 percent of their time performing other work, they are not considered personal attendants. Anything other than feeding, bathing, dressing, and direct supervision of the person would be considered “other work” or “non-attendant duties.”

Separate rules govern overtime for personal attendants. If the worker is a personal attendant, they are entitled to overtime wages as follows:

  • Overtime pay at 1.5 times the regular rate of pay for any hours worked over 45 hours per week or nine hours per day

If the person is a domestic worker who is not a personal attendant and does not live in the home, the following overtime rules apply:

  • Overtime pay at the rate of 1.5 times the regular rate for any hours worked over 40 hours per week or eight hours per day
  • Overtime pay for the first eight hours worked on the seventh consecutive day in a workweek
  • Double time wages (twice the regular rate of pay) for each hour worked over 12 hours per day
  • Double time wages for hours worked over eight hours on the seventh consecutive day in a workweek

The overtime pay for domestic workers who are not personal attendants but live in the household is slightly different. Instead of receiving overtime and double time pay after eight hours per day, they receive overtime pay and double time pay based on nine hours worked in a day. Also, the rights to receive overtime and double time pay apply to the sixth and seventh consecutive days worked in a workweek.

What Should I Do if My Employer Denies Minimum Wage or Overtime Pay?

California employment laws for domestic workers, including caregivers and homecare workers, are extensive. In addition to wages, labor laws also protect the right to time off, meal periods, rest periods, wage notices, and wage statements. 

Employers who break these laws can face penalties and fines. In addition, you could be entitled to compensation for unpaid wages and other damages caused when an employer breaks California’s employment laws. However, there are exceptions to the rules for domestic workers and caregivers, which can be confusing and difficult to understand. If you believe your employer owes you money for overtime pay, wages, or other benefits, contact an employment law attorney to discuss the matter. An attorney evaluates your situation, explains your rights under employment laws, and provides legal advice regarding filing claims and lawsuits seeing compensation for damages.

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About The Author

Nicholas J. Ferraro

Nicholas J. Ferraro is a skilled labor and employment lawyer and the founder of Ferraro Vega Employment Lawyers, Inc. Based in San Diego, he focuses on representing employees in class action and collective litigation cases. Education: Mr. Ferraro attended the University of San Diego School of Law, where he was a member of the San Diego Law Review. Experience: Over a decade of legal practice, representing more than 100,000 employees. Court Admissions: Mr. Ferraro represents his clients throughout the State of California and the State of Washington. He is a member of the State Bar of California. Community Involvement: Active member of the California Employment Lawyers Association and the San Diego County Bar Association.