Caregivers often spend long hours at home caring for their loved ones. How much time should they expect to put into their jobs? Caregiving is a rewarding job, but it also comes with challenges.
The average caregiver spends over 50 hours per week providing care to someone who has Alzheimer’s or dementia or simply has lost mobility to do everyday tasks themselves.
This article explains why caregivers need to take breaks from their jobs, and how to schedule them effectively.
It also looks at how many hours a caregiver can work in a day to prevent burnout but provide the proper care their patients require. Let’s jump in.
Why Do Caregivers Need Breaks From Their Jobs?
Caregivers are responsible for taking care of people who have special needs and elderly people who are not so mobile anymore.
Some may be required to do this 24/7. This means that caregivers must make sure they get enough sleep and eat healthy food. They also need to manage stress, as stress can lead to health problems.
Before we go into how many hours they can work, it’s important to remind ourselves why caregivers need breaks. Caregivers need to take regular breaks from their jobs because:
- Stress builds up quickly when you’re constantly on call. You might not even realize how stressed out you’ve become until your body starts showing signs of fatigue.
- Taking breaks helps you maintain good physical and mental health. When you don’t rest properly, you’ll start feeling tired and sluggish. Your energy levels will drop, and you won’t be able to focus as well.
- Taking breaks allows you to recharge so you can continue working without being distracted by negative thoughts.
- Being away from your family or patient gives you a chance to reflect on what you’re doing.
You can think about whether you’re making the right decisions, whether you’re spending too much time on certain tasks, and if you need to change anything.
How Many Hours Can A Caregiver Work In One Day?
The answer depends on several factors. First, let’s look at how many hours you can work before you reach the point where you’re no longer effective.
If you’re an employee, you can only work between 40 and 50 hours per week. Anything more than that could cause you to miss deadlines and lose your job.
Moreover, special overtime laws come into place when working over 40 hours, and we will look into this in the next section.
If you’re self-employed, you can work as much as you want. However, you still need to consider the impact of your workload on your personal life.
Ideally, you shouldn’t work more than eight hours per day. That’s all you need to stay alert, focused, and productive.
However, in the USA, most caregivers work between 8 and 16 hours, but this will depend on employment status and the terms of your contract. Sometimes overtime is needed when there is a shortage of staff.
How Does Overtime Work?
There are lots of different types of caregiving positions available. Some people choose to work part-time whilst others prefer full-time roles.
It’s important to understand that some employers offer flexible work arrangements. For example, you might be expected to work fewer hours during busy periods such as weekends and public holidays.
You should always check your employer’s policy regarding overtime before accepting any new role. If you feel like you’re being pressured into working extra hours, it’s best to speak with your manager first.
Household employees are normally considered non-exempt, and this means they are entitled to time-and-a-half for all hours they work that equal over 40 in 7 days.
This is true even if you are working full-time, part-time, or as a temporary backup caregiver. Failure to pay for overtime can come with hefty consequences for an employer.
If a former employee files a wage dispute with the state, you could be held liable for the overtime pay and fined for not complying with laws.
In most states, live-in employees don’t have to be paid overtime. However, some states have special laws for these types of employees.
Moreover, senior caregivers giving companionship to the elderly or their patients are usually not included in the overtime laws in a lot of states.
How Do I Track Hours When Traveling With A Caregiver?
When traveling with your caregiver, federal law requires an employer to compensate for all hours worked over the trip, including the traveling part.
The caregiver’s travel expenses, accommodation, and meals are not taxable income and these are the expenses you will need to source yourself.
The hours your caregiver works are no different from when they work at home. Just like at home, the employee is not free to come and go as they please.
Even if it means they’re just sitting with you by the pool. If they are needed to be there, it is considered working time and these hours need to be clocked.
It’s important to remember if the working time exceeds 40 hours in a 7-day week, you are required to pay overtime at 1.5 times the normal wage.
If overtime is new to you as an employer, it’s good practice to write down your caregiver’s daily hours when you are away traveling so you don’t make an error calculating their overall pay and end up with a hefty fine.
When Should You Take Breaks From Your Caregiving Job?
- Taking breaks isn’t something you can just decide to do whenever you feel like it. Instead, you need to plan. Here are some guidelines to help you determine when you should take breaks from your job:
- If you’re an employee, ask yourself if you’re having trouble concentrating. Are you getting bored with your current role? Is your employer treating you unfairly?
- If you’re self-employed and you’re finding it difficult to balance your work and private life, then you need to find ways to reduce your workload. For example, you could hire someone else to cover some of your duties. Or you could delegate some of your responsibilities to other employees.
- Whilst at your job, if you’re a caregiver, you should always try to take one short break every hour. That way, you can relax, enjoy downtime, and refresh yourself mentally and physically.
We hope after reading this article you now understand how many hours a caregiver can work per day and what rules apply to them.
We also want to remind you that being a caregiver is hard work and we know it takes its toll on your body and mind.
So, if you’re feeling like this is the case with you, don’t forget to take a step back, breathe and take a break. Both your patient and family members will thank you and appreciate all the work you are doing for them.