If you are a live-in home health aide in New York and you work a 24-hour shift, it is important to understand your rights with regard to sleep and meal breaks.
Under the New York State Department of Labor’s so-called 13-Hour Rule, if you are assigned a 24-hour shift to provide live-in care, your employer is only required to pay you for 13 hours, as long as you receive at least three hours of break time for meals and eight hours of sleep time, five of which must be uninterrupted. The term “live-in” applies to both residential and nonresidential employees, as long as they are working a 24-hour shift in a patient’s home.
The 13-Hour Rule is based on the assumption that home health aides work a maximum of 13 hours per day, if they spend three hours on meal breaks and eight hours sleeping. But in reality, the demands of the job routinely interrupt the sleep and meal breaks of many home health workers.
You have a right to uninterrupted sleep and break time
During your 24-hour shifts, you may find that you’re regularly called upon to perform tasks in the middle of the night. For instance, the patient may need to be escorted to the bathroom, sometimes multiple times a night. Some patients may need to have their diapers changed or be turned in their beds several times during the night. Or they may wake you up regularly with various other requests or needs.
You may find the same is true during your meal breaks. While you are entitled to three hours to yourself for meals and personal time over the course of the shift, the demands of caring for a patient may mean that you regularly perform job-related tasks during what should be your break time.
If your sleep and meal breaks are interrupted
Employers can only pay home health aides according to the 13-Hour Rule if the workers are, in fact, getting the allotted sleep and break time. In 2019, the New York Court of Appeals held that any violation of the 13-Hour Rule negates the rule and requires that the employer pay the home health worker for the entire 24-hour shift. Therefore, if you are unable to get eight hours of sleep, including at least five hours of uninterrupted sleep, or you are unable to have three hours of uninterrupted meal breaks due to the demands of your live-in assignment, you may be entitled to be paid for a full 24 hours.
Have you been paid properly?
If you believe you have not been paid properly in accordance with the law, you can help protect your rights by discussing the matter with an experienced employment attorney. Contact Katz Melinger PLLC at 212-460-0047 or online.