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Overtime for 24-hour caregiver shifts

My husband and I have just bought a non-medical home care company which is licensed in the State of Illinois. We want to pay our caregivers fairly and, as we have had requests for 24 hour (live in service) I would like to know how many 24 hour shifts our caregivers can work before we have to pay overtime. As you can imagine that would be cost prohibitive for the client and for us.
I have heard that we calculate the overtime by breaking down the 24 hr shift to 13 working hours. Is that true? Our caregivers often get up through the night with their client and I want them compensated for that.
You can see my quandry, I’m sure. I look forward to your answer.

Kudos to you and your husband for wanting to treat employees fairly!


When an employee is covered by both state and federal law, the employee is entitled to protection under whichever law offers the greater benefit.


Under both federal and Illinois law, employees are entitled to overtime when they work more than 40 hours in the payroll week. So an employee who worked two shifts of 24 hours each would be entitled to 40 hours at straight time and 8 hours of overtime, at time-and-one-half.


Obviously, this is an expensive proposition, which is why the other business owners are not paying workers for a 24-hour shift.


We agree that when the other employers pay for just 13 out of 24 hours, they may not be paying employees for all hours worked – which would be a violation of both Illinois and federal minimum wage laws.  


Legally, an employee must be paid for all time worked. However, the live-in employee need not be paid for any time that he or she is sleeping, or is completely relieved of all work duties under federal law. The federal rules on sleep are complex, and are in Fact Sheet 22 below.


But the bottom line is, it would be far more cost-effective for you to supply 3  or 4 aides who each work an 8-hour shift, than one aide who works a 20 or 24 hour shift.


There are exceptions under both the state and federal laws for *domestic employees* that would apply if you hired an employee to care for your elderly mother in your home. However, they do not apply when the employer is a business providing home healthcare to clients in the clients home.


Because these laws are so complex and you are new to the industry, you may want to consult an attorney specializing in employment law before taking action.  


Read more about the federal laws  at:



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This entry was posted on Friday, October 30th, 2009 at 4:05 pm and is filed under
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