Question: I am a caregiver. I moved in a small apartment my clients have at one end of the house. The other caregiver quit and it's a lot of work to care for this older woman who is a brittle diabetic with high blood pressure. It's stressful taking care of her plus I take care the whole house huge house--clean, cook, care for their two dogs and cats, and do the shopping. It's never ending! The man is charging me $750 in rent and the place is very small and I cannot have company. He pays me $11.50 an hour. I work seven days a week. By the time he deducts my rent I don't have much left. I asked him to lower the rent but he said no. I feel taken advantage of. I even buy my own food. Because I live here, I am never really off work. I wait on them hand and foot and am mad because I feel cheated. They are very, very wealthy people. Can you give me advice?
Dr. Amy: It sounds like you are kept very busy, and that you feel overworked and underpaid. I encourage you to call your local Legal Aid office. They will be able to answer all of your questions about your working conditions. They can also help you understand your options. The number for your area is (530) 742-5191.
Employment law varies from state to state. If you are searching online for Legal Aid, your Internet search result may give you a list of law firms. It's possible not all of them provide free legal aid, so when you call, be sure to ask if they do. It will be helpful for you to understand what the going rate is for a live in caregiver/housekeeper; what fair rent looks like; what you should receive in the way of time off, overtime pay, and vacation; and what the law says about a normal work week.
At the end of the day, you may want to think about other opportunities that are better suited to you. We always have options, and good caregivers are in high demand.
Get helpful tips and articles like these delivered to your email.