Updated on April 18th, 2023

What are the 4 Caregiver rights in California?

A California caregiver is entitled to rest breaks, meal breaks, minimum wage, overtime pay for working over 8 hours per day, and double time for working over 12 hours, including overnight stays. Employers often face lawsuits from caregivers for violating caregivers’ rights, such as basic wages.

By: Brad Nakase, Attorney

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Rights of a Caregiver in California

A caregiver in California is an individual who has taken on the role of both care provider and advocate. In California, a caregiver has all the rights a regular employee has such as minimum wage, overtime pay, double time pay, rest break, meal breaks, paid time off, etc.

In this article, our attorney for caregivers in California discusses caregivers rights as follows:

24 Hour Caregiver Salary in California

As of January 2023, most 24-hour caregivers in California must be paid a minimum wage of $488.25 per day. The caregiver’s first 8 hours worked must be paid a minimum wage of $15.50, but higher in many cities in California. Then, California law requires overtime payments of $23.25 per hour for the remaining 15 hours. A California caregiver working in cities with higher minimum wage laws must be paid at the applicable minimum wage. A 24-hour caregiver in California who is earning less than $488.25 per day can hire a caregiver lawyer to sue the employer.

Do caregivers get paid for sleeping?

Yes, a California caregiver must get paid for sleeping when required to remain on the premises. A caregiver must be paid even if they are surfing the internet, watching TV, socializing on the phone, and sleeping when the caregiver is on standby or under the control of their employer. If a caregiver in California is not allowed to leave at night, the caregiver must be paid for all overnight hours.

An employer of an in-home caregiver must not deduct sleep time from hours worked. If an employer deducts money for sleep time, the caregiver in California can hire a lawyer and may sue for over $100,000.

California Hospital and Family Caregiver Law

The CARE Act mandates hospitals to involve and recognize a designated family caregiver(s) during hospitalization and discharge planning. A California state law that takes effect in the new year aims to help hospital patients better transition home with the aid of informed family members and friends. The California caregiver law could improve the quality of care, prevent readmission and cut costs.

Before CARE Act law went into effect, family caregivers were not always kept informed on when loved ones were transferred between hospitals or discharged from care. Frustratingly, this would keep caregivers out of the loop on matters related to their relative’s care. The California Hospital and Family Caregiver Law has achieved much in this area. The law now requires hospitals to:

  • Record the name of a designated caregiver in California
  • Notify the California caregiver of status updates (i.e., discharges to new facilities, clinics, or homes)
  • Provide in-depth instructions to the California caregiver so that they can perform medically required procedures or tasks at home. This includes info pertaining to medication and dosage, as well as how to properly use specialty medical equipment
  • Provide all information and permit questions in a language that the caregiver and patient are comfortable with

Example: Rosa is the designated caregiver in California for her husband, Hector, who suffers from ALS. Whenever Hector needs hospital treatment, Rosa is kept updated by doctors and nurses about her husband’s condition and status. While in the hospital for an extended stay, Hector is moved to a different clinic for specialty care. Immediately, Rosa is informed so that she can go to the new clinic to be with her husband. At the new clinic, Rosa is taught about her husband’s new wheelchair, how to use it, and what new medications she will have to administer. As a caregiver in California, Rosa is thankful that all of these instructions are delivered in Spanish, her and Hector’s native language.

Caregivers Rights Under the California Paid Family Leave Act

To be eligible for Paid Family Act benefit payments, a caregiver in California must: Be a caregiver for a seriously ill family member. A qualifying family member who can be a California caregiver is a spouse, sibling, grandchild, grandparent, a parent in law, parent, child, or domestic partner. A California caregiver taking time off work may receive up to 60% and 70% of their lost wages up to a maximum of $1,620 per week (as of January 2023) for up to 8 weeks in 12 months. The California Paid Family Leave Act (PFL) is a program that helps replace wages or subsidize income for family caregivers or new parents who must take time away from their regular jobs to care for loved ones.

Caregiver in California must meet the following requirements:

  • Contribute to SDI (State Disability Insurance)
  • Provide care to their spouse, child, parent, domestic partner, grandparents, grandchild, sibling, or parent-in-law

As of July 1, 2020, eligible caregivers can take up to 8 weeks of time off within a 12-month period, and at any time in that period. The time off does not have to be consecutive (all eight weeks in a row, for example), and the caregiver will receive partial payment for wages lost during that time off.

Example: Manning’s wife has just given birth to their third baby, and Manning is thrilled. However, he recognizes that his wife cannot care for three young children all on her own while also recovering from childbirth. Manning wants to be a California caregiver; therefore, he applies for time off under the California Paid Family Leave Act, which would allow him to stay at home with his wife and help her care for the new baby. Under the program, he will receive subsidized wages to help make up for the work that he is missing. Manning is thereby able to take off eight weeks from work, be a caregiver in California, and support his growing family.

Caregiver Rights Under the California Family Rights Act

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is a law that allows family caregivers in California to take job-protected leave away from work to provide care without fear of losing their job. The law applies to individuals in California who meet the following requirements:

  • Employed by a company with five or more employees
  • Provide care to a child, spouse, parent, domestic partner, grandparents, grandchild, sibling, or parent-in-law

As of July 1, 2020, eligible caregivers in California can take up to 12 weeks of time off within a 12-month period, and that time may be taken at any point in that period. The time does not need to be taken consecutively (all twelve weeks at once, for example), and employees are protected from losing their job or being demoted during this time off.

Example: Britney works at an office in Culver City. She has just given birth to her first child, a little boy named Noah. In order to recover from giving birth and to take care of little Noah, she applies for leave under the California Family Rights Act. Under the law, she receives 12 weeks of leave to care for her new baby. She is assured that her job will be there for her when she gets back from her time off, and her position will be the same.

Caregiver California Paid Sick Leave

Caregivers in California are entitled to paid sick days under IHSS. The In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program provides in-home assistance to eligible aged, blind and disabled individuals. Under the California Paid Sick Leave law, California caregivers are allowed to take a minimum of three sick days per year. These days must be job-protected and paid. In California, employees are eligible is they meet the following requirement:

  • Have been employed by the same employer for at least 30 days

A caregiver in California may use sick leave for themselves or a family member. These days can be used for the following reasons:

  • The diagnosis, care, or treatment of a condition
  • Preventative care
  • Time off related to sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking

Recent Updates to California Laws

As of 2021, California has been considering making an amendment to its employment laws. The proposed amendment would give additional protections to family caregivers. At present, an employer is legally allowed to discriminate against an employee based on their status as a family caregiver. This amendment would change that.

In theory, the proposed law would affect California caregivers rights in the following ways:

  • It would prevent employers from discriminating against applicants and current employees who have or are seeking work based on a caregiver’s responsibilities. Employers can technically deny a person employment if he or she is seeking a role that caters to their caregiving responsibilities.

    Example: Jenny is applying to a new job at a hair salon. Jenny is also a caregiver in California who give care for her elderly mother who is disabled and going through cancer treatment. As her mother’s caregiver, Jenny is looking for a job that gives her a flexible schedule so she can take her mother to doctor’s appointments and chemotherapy sessions. She would also like a job that understands when there is an emergency and Jenny needs to clock out to take care of her mom. Jenny assumed that as a hairstylist, she would get some flexibility with her schedule and be able to take care of her mother in between shifts. Unfortunately, her would-be boss denies her employment because he wants someone who is not “flaky” and whom he can rely on consistently. Jenny is hurt. But under the current employment laws, the employer is allowed to discriminate based on California caregiver status. If the new law goes into effect, Jenny would be protected from this kind of discrimination.

  • It would give caregiving employees with “direct and ongoing” responsibilities the right to certain accommodations. One of these accommodations would be the right to leave work a few minutes early or arrive a little late due to childcare needs. At present, families with these issues need to take disability leave.

    Example: Leo works at an office in Pacific Palisades. His three-year-old son, Danny, is in pre-school. His wife, Lydia, works a demanding job with a hectic schedule. As a result, sometimes Leo needs to go to work a little late or leave a little early in order to drop Danny off at daycare or pick him up when his wife is unavailable. Currently, his employer makes Leo use paid time off when this kind of situation arises. Under the proposed law, Leo would be granted accommodation. As a California caregiver, he would not have to use PTO to pick up his son on occasion.

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What Is A Hostile Work Environment?

The law defines an unlawful hostile work environment to mean when a superior or coworker communication or behavior that is offensive, intimating, or discriminate on the basis of gender, religion, race, ethnicity, etc.

Can you take unpaid time off in California?

There is no legal requirement in California that an employer provide its employees with either paid or unpaid vacation time. However, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year.

DFEH Right to Sue

To file a lawsuit for discrimination, you must file a complaint with DFEH and obtain a Right-to-Sue notice.

Is It Illegal To Not Pay Overtime?

Yes, it is illegal for employer to not pay overtime because California law requires that employers pay overtime, whether authorized or not.

What Is Rate Pay Meaning?

The meaning of pay rate is the average hourly rate an employee is paid calculated by dividing the total pay for employment in a work week by the total number of hours actually worked.

California Break Laws

Under California law, non-exempt workers are entitled to two paid 10-minute rest breaks and one unpaid meal break during their eight-hour shift. 

Not Getting Paid for Work I Have Done

Workers who have not been paid for work have the right to file a claim with the federal and state Department of Labor for unpaid wages.

California Overtime Law

Under California overtime law, an employee who works over eight hours a day or over forty hours per week is entitled to overtime pay at one and one-half times the regular rate of pay.

Who is exempt from overtime pay?

As of 2023, to be exempt from overtime pay, any employees who are paid at least $62,400 per year and work are primarily professional, executive, creative, managerial, or intellectual and require the exercise of independent judgment.

Can Previous Employers Talk Bad About You?

There are no state or federal laws prohibiting what a previous employer can or cannot say about a former employee. However, previous employers are not permitted to make up lies to damage your reputation and make it difficult for you to get another job.

Can An Employer Cut Your Pay as Punishment?

Employers cannot cut hours to retaliate against employees. Cutting the hours of an employee should never be used as discipline or in an attempt to make an employee quit. 

California Random Drug Testing Law

Random drug testing is not permitted in California, and employers must give their employees notice before a drug test is given.

What happens if you get caught working under the table?

Generally, it is not illegal for your employer to pay you in cash. However, if the employer paid you under the table and did not report your earnings, you may be entitled to money damages under California Labor Code 226.

ADA Proof of Disability

An employer has no right to ask an employee to provide proof of disability unless the employee requests a reasonable accommodation and the employer does not believe disability exists.

FMLA Retaliation and Wrongful Discharge

An employer is prohibited from retaliating, interfering with, restraining, or denying an employee’s exercise of any FMLA right. If an employer wrongfully terminates an employee for FLMA taking medical leave, the worker could have a lawsuit against the employer.

Per Diem Employee Rights

A per diem employee is a worker who work on an as needed basis. A per diem employee does not have a regular schedule or shift but instead works hours as assigned.