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OMG!! Please help me California

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  • OMG!! Please help me California

    I worked at a group home going on two years in california, and i am ready to quit!!!! I have many questions about my rights as an employee, because all the staff have been treated poorly by the administrator.
    1st question: My boss is implementing this rule that if we are one minute late our pay will get docked by thirty minutes. The problem with this is that we just right down our time in a book. The clock at the facility is always off 5 or 10 minutes. Is there some kin of law that states that there should be a grace period?

    2nd question: Of course a group home is ran 24 hours... My boss wants me to work a 24 hour shift 8am-8am, but only wants to pay for 16 hours because she said i can sleep on the couch for 8 hours. Mind you that the clients could wake up at anytime and our still part of my responsibility. Can she do this?

    3rd question: The clients that i deal with can be agressive with staff due to their mental diabilities. I have had many injuries with my hand or back. Also have been bitten several times so hard that i have severe scaring, my nose busted, etc. Own staff has gotten they're eye swollen shut. When asked if there some sort of compensation or a day or two off to recover, the answer is always "NO!" Is there something i can do about this? Mind you that with every two clients there should be one staff. We have four clients and on them is supposed to get her own staff. but i am always there m myself.

    4th question: Every payday my check is either late or short on hours. When i confront the administrator about it she just says she'll put it in the next check or i have to wait a couple of days until she gets in contact with the payroll guy. Is there some kind of penalty for this?

    I Love what i do. but i need to know if i choose to quit this job, that i will i have a case. I am tired of the mistreatment of employees and contradictions of the administrator. She doesn't follow the required rules for licensing but when it comes to paying us she wants to make up excuses.
    A couple of weeks ago i started documenting my day at work and conversations we have, in my own notebook at home because i have seen her former employees done wrong and her attempts to get out of paying them. Is this a good idea? I really want to quit but i am trying to hold on an finish this semester of school. what should i do?

  • #2
    Parts of this will be a soft answer. I have no familarity with group homes and just know the general rules. I am going to assume that the federal FLSA is applicable (99%+ chance this is true).
    - You did not say what you do. I cannot tell if you are Exempt (someone with no legal right to paid overtime and whom is not legally paid based on actual hours worked) or Non-Exempt (someone who legally must be paid overtime and whose pay is based on actual hours worked). I am going to assume that you are Non-Exempt, since most of your questions do not make much sense in an Exempt context.
    - Non-Exempt employees are paid based on actual hours worked. The employer cannot legally dock an employee 30 minutes for being one minute late. It does not matter if the clock is early or late because the elasped time is the same either way. If you are a Non-Exempt employee who is not being paid for all hours worked, your recourse is to file a wage claim with CA-DLSE.
    - There is a federal rule (FLSA) that if an employee works 24 hours, under the "normal" federal rules the employee must be paid 24 hours. If the employee works more then 24 hours straight, then that rules changes, and generally (but not always) a sleep period can be charged. I do not know the detail of the rules of the top of my head and I have no idea if there are any group home exceptions or CA specific exceptions. This is part of what I meant by a "soft" answer earlier.
    - I am going to defer question #3 to someone else.
    - If you are not paid hours worked, file a wage claim. If the employer is paying late, you can file a different type of complaint. This can cause the employer to get penalized but you would not get the penalty.
    - I will leave the rest of your questions to someone else.
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)


    • #3
      I cannot answer the questions as asked; this is much more in DAW's area than mine. But just for the record, while I agree that you cannot be docked 30 minutes for being one minute late, you can be fired for being one minute late.
      The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


      • #4
        I'll address the WC issue. Unless you are taken off of work by a doctor because of your injury, no, they do not have to permit you a day off to recover. Even if taken off work by a doctor it isn't an absolute, but it can get messier if they do not allow it. For one or two days, you would have a hard time making a case for this.
        I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.


        • #5
          My company runs many group homes, but in another state (NJ).

          Our employees sometimes get assaulted by our residents who have developmental disabilities. Every time this happens, it must be reported to human resources, and they do a report to worker's comp and direct the employee to go to the contracted worker's comp doctors. The doctor will then determine if time off is required. As an organization, we are okay with 1-2 days off, even if it's not a severe injury, because we learned over time that people who don't take a few days off later end up reporting post-traumatic symptoms and going for psychotherapy (whether it's valid or not is a whole other question...)
          When Worker's comp pays for psychotherapy, it gets REALLY expensive (and it makes our rates go up), so we are okay with them getting a doctor's note for 1-2 days off after being assaulted.

          When you and your co-workers get hit, are you reporting it to HR? Are you getting medical attention? Is it being covered by your own health insurance or worker's comp insurance? If you don't know the answers to these questions, you need to talk to HR. It's possible that your company is under-reporting work-related injuries to save on their WC costs. I would advise that every time an employee gets assaulted, that they get medical attention, even if they say they are okay. If they are okay, the doctor won't write to take time off, and everyone is now covered.

          I also train my people on the fact that not reporting a client assault is not doing anyone any favors. The client who has difficulty with impulse control is obviously not getting the interventions they need, and the other clients get all sorts of emotional reactions to seeing their staff get beaten up. Plus, it can be seen as insurance fraud to have employees use their regular insurance to pay for treatment for work related injuries. I don't think the company wants to face fraud charges. Also, if there is a supervisor telling employees to not report work related injuries, he'd be in big trouble too.

          To protect the clients, the employees and the company, we have to report these assault incidents to worker's comp.

          We don't pay "sleep hours" at my company, as overnight staff have to stay awake and complete tasks that day people can't get to. They also get un-announced visits to make sure they sre awake! I know some residential providers do pay for sleep time, but at a lesser rate that awake time (probably minimum wage). But not being an HR or payroll person, I don't know if there are laws on this that vary by state.

          Also, as a professional and manager in the human services field, I have to say it's really unwise to expect employees to work 24 hour shifts! The only time it happen here is if there's a huge snow storm or something, and it's extremely rare. We all know that sleep deprived employees can make all sorts of mistakes, and it's worse when you are responsible for caring for people who are dependent upon you. I know our licensing bodies out here would consider it a breach of client care to have staff on duty who have worked 24 hours. Your manager may be setting his own policies; it is not likely that your whole company would agree with these things and risk their reputation, license, money, etc.


          • #6
            Oh, and I forgot to add...

            Your are doing really important work, and should be recognized for it.

            So many people who work in human services get burned out and leave because they are underappreciated, underpayed, or just get treated badly.

            You seem like you love what you do, and you are still new to the field. We need more like you. If you do end up giving up on this company, try others in this field, don't just give up the whole thing. Some companies, like my current one, really are invested in their employees, treating them well, so that they stay. We recognize that keeping the experienced and devoted people really benefits our clients and comapny as a whole.

            Unfortunately some human service providers just view their staff as expendable office supplies, deciding they just need a person with a degree and a pulse to care for people with special needs.

            Let me know if you ever move to NJ!


            • #7
              Originally posted by TSCompliance View Post
              We don't pay "sleep hours" at my company, as overnight staff have to stay awake and complete tasks that day people can't get to. They also get un-announced visits to make sure they sre awake! I know some residential providers do pay for sleep time, but at a lesser rate that awake time (probably minimum wage). But not being an HR or payroll person, I don't know if there are laws on this that vary by state.
              The general federal rules regarding "sleep hours" are 29 CFR 785.20-785.23. As before, I have no idea if there are any group home exceptions to these rules.

              "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
              Philip K. **** (1928-1982)


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