By Coffman Legal, LLC | Posted on
What are Frequent Wage and Hour Issues for Health Care Employees?
Our experienced Denver Colorado employment attorney has litigated many wage and hour disputes for healthcare employees all over the country. Some of the most frequent violations that our Denver unpaid overtime lawyer litigates for one or many healthcare employees are discussed below. If you have any questions about your rights to wages, overtime, or pay for any work you perform, contact our Denver Colorado wage and hour attorneys.
Nurses and other healthcare workers in hospitals and nursing homes find themselves on the receiving end of wage & hour violations more than just about any other profession. Home Health Aides (HHAs), Registered Behavioral Therapists (RBTs), Nurses (LPN, LVN, CNA), and Dietary Aides frequently suffer from wage violations.
Here are some examples:
- Travel between job sites – A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) working at an assisted living facility may also get assigned to work at a sister facility miles away, either to fill in for a worker who called in sick or as a regular job assignment. Many Home Health Aids regularly travel to see multiple clients at multiple locations and are also eligible for compensated travel time. Travel time between job sites is compensable time, but it’s equally common for employers to both fail to pay for the travel as well as fail to record the travel time for purposes of calculating and determining overtime.
- Training and seminars – In order to keep abreast of the latest developments in medicine and treatment, residential care facilities offer seminars and training sessions related to caring for certain populations, such as care for residents with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia or other types of conditions, such as for patients with Parkinson’s. To keep their workers on the floor during their shifts, the facility may schedule training in the evening for the day shift and during the day for the evening shift. Generally, you must be paid for the training if it is related to your occupation and your employer requires it. Even if the administration says the training is “voluntary,” if your supervisor clearly expects you to go or even schedules you to attend, then that training is considered to be required by your employer. Additionally, these after-hours training sessions and seminars must also be considered for the purpose of calculating overtime. These situations are nuanced, and caretakers face a number of issues in the workplace, but the attorneys at Coffman Legal are here to help you get the pay you’ve earned.
- Working beyond the shift – For a variety of reasons, hospitals and other care facilities are chronically understaffed, which puts additional burdens on their nurses and healthcare aids. Many nurses feel duty-bound to put the needs of patients and residents above their own. For example, many nurses stay beyond their shift to update charts or fill in until the new shift gets settled in. Even if the administration does not authorize such work, employees should be paid for all the time they are “suffered or permitted” to work.
- Missed Meal Breaks—another symptom of overstaffing is when employees are not able to take meal breaks. By law, if you work more than 5 hours in a day, you are entitled to a 30-minute break. Often this is a meal break. Although employers are not required to pay for bona fide meal breaks (where an employee has 30 uninterrupted minutes to take a break), if your lunch break is cut short to less than 30-minutes, or you’re also doing work during this break, this meal break should be compensated because, by definition, it is not a bona fide meal break. This issue is very common, and many employees don’t realize that it is unlawful for their employer to fail to pay their employees if the employee has a shortened meal break, misses an entire meal break, or is doing work for their employee during that meal break.
- The “eight and eighty rule” – Hospitals and residential care facilities can use a consecutive 14-day period instead of a 40-hour workweek. Under this scenario, overtime is paid for hours over eight hours a day or over 80 hours in that 14-day period. Hospitals can only use the 8 and 80 rule with a prior agreement or understanding with the affected workers. If you believe your employer is not underpaying you, our Denver Colorado lawyers specialize in collecting unpaid overtime wages for nurses.
- Dual jobs, shift differentials – Some hospital workers perform two different jobs, such as a nurse’s aide and a receptionist or secretary. All of the hours worked for the employer, regardless of job duty or title, must be considered for the purposes of meal breaks and overtime. Shift differentials for undesirable shifts, such as night shifts, are common, but oftentimes employers fail to include that additional pay when calculating the overtime rate. Still, other workers may be provided with a supplemental shift bonus when filling in for another employer. All of an employee’s pay is factored into the overtime rate, but employers frequently omit those figures, resulting in underpayments.
- Bonuses – Many employers pay healthcare workers bonuses for picking up shifts, attendance, COVID, hazard pay, retention/longevity, or other types of promised bonuses in addition to their base hourly rates of pay. Many, if not all, of these bonuses, must be included in the calculation of healthcare employees’ overtime rates of pay. Even though there is public guidance available informing employers of this fact, many employers fail to calculate overtime pay correctly. If you are receiving additional compensation, such as promised bonuses, in addition to your hourly pay, you should speak with one of our experienced Denver wage and hour lawyers to ensure you are being paid properly.
We at Coffman Legal pride ourselves on protecting all nurses and ensuring that they are paid their fair and hard-earned wages. If you work in healthcare and your employer is underpaying you or not paying for overtime, contact our Denver Colorado nurses wage attorneys.