NYC Senior Caregivers Demand Unpaid Wages

Carol Khaldoun, who cares for elderly people, demands a closer supervision of home care agencies. (Photo via El Diario)

Carol Khaldoun is anguished about her job as a caregiver for the elderly in New York. According to her, it is “full of unfair situations.” She has worked for a senior home care agency for over two years and says that the company does not pay her any benefits despite the long hours.

Khaldoun, who is a widow, supports her two children with her salary. That is why she was forced to stand up to her employers and demand an explanation after receiving no pay for the sick days she took after an accident. (…)

“The [agency’s] director came to me because I had an accident and, instead of helping me out, he wanted to beat me up, fight with me,” said the worker, adding that “the injustices you go through on this job are shared by many of the employees.”

Like Khaldoun, another caregiver who chose to remain anonymous because she is undocumented, pointed out that laws need to be adjusted and that agencies have to be under constant scrutiny.

“We often work 24 hours but only get paid for 13. That is unfair,” she said. “According to [the agencies] the unpaid hours are our time to sleep, but that is not true. We are there, alert, for the 24 hours. If the patient wakes up at 3:00 a.m., we do too.”

(…) According to a Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) investigation published on Wednesday, which evaluated 42 home care agencies employing nearly 30 percent of all caregivers in the Big Apple, many of these companies are not complying with the law regarding sick days.

(…) The DCA highlighted the fact that, since the law came into effect in April 2014, caregivers have become the third largest source of complaints over unpaid sick leave.

The investigation unveiled a number of irregularities:

  • Employees lack information about workers’ rights or their employer’s sick leave policies.
  • Overtime pay violations were committed, including inadequate compensation for 24-hour shifts.
  • Employees lack information about equal pay benefits.

DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas reiterated her commitment to caregivers, most of whom are immigrant women, “just like my grandmother, who came from Peru and worked as a caregiver until she retired. I am committed to them.”

(…)

The commissioner explained that, so far, 21 cases involving some 315 workers whose unpaid wages were returned have been solved. Combined, their payments reached $42,731, plus $23,448 in fines.

(…)

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