Home Attendants

The answers you find here are intended to serve as suggested best practices for domestic employment, and have been crafted by Hand in Hand with the National Domestic Workers Alliance. They are designed to help you take steps toward creating a mutually beneficial domestic employment relationship—and help set a framework for conversations with the domestic worker(s) you employ. Please understand that these suggested best practices may differ based on the particular domestic employment relationship and that these possible best practices do not constitute legal advice.

What If I can't afford Hand in Hand’s recommendations?

We know that attendant support is expensive, whether you are a person with a disability who needs assistance for daily tasks or if you’re a family that is struggling to coordinate in-home support for an aging relative.

At Hand in Hand, we share the belief that when a worker is treated well, it increases the quality of care and support that we and our families receive. We also know that we have a long way to go in changing public policy to support us all to live and age with dignity with the ability to access the in-home support that we need.

In that context, we encourage employers of attendants to review our Checklist and consider what you can do. There are many ways to improve your employment practices that don’t cost any money! For example: setting up a work agreement or having annual evaluations. There are also small ways you can augment a wage and in that way show a home attendant you appreciate her work; for example, by giving an end-of-year bonus.

If you employ a home attendant for a high number of hours and cannot afford overtime pay (time and half the regular hourly wage), we encourage you to hire multiple workers and track their hours, so that no one worker works more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week. We recognize that some employers will have to make challenging shifts in your life in order to do this. We believe that in the long run these changes will benefit everyone. Meanwhile we will keep working on policy campaigns to move our society toward providing more support and funding for more people to get the attendant support that we and our families need.

Are there overtime laws unique to home attendant employers?

Please find overall information about overtime, here.

You can review the law state-by-state here and learn more about Federal Department of Labor rules about overtime here.

What if I employ a home attendant who takes advantage of or makes me or a family member feel unsafe?

Please see information about grounds for immediate termination in the Q+A.

What if I or my family member doesn’t get along with a home attendant?

We know how intimate this work is and how important it is that you and your family feel good in the relationship. That said, it’s worth putting the time in to improving the relationship. Sometimes awkward or difficult interactions can be a result of expectations not being clear. If the relationship isn’t going well, it might be time for a structured check in. It’s a good idea to compensate the worker for this time but make it separate from regular work hours. If the person getting attendant support is an aging relative and not yourself, it is a good idea to check in with your relative first and bring her/him into the conversation with the worker as well.

In this check in, you can ask the home attendant how she thinks the relationship is going or if there are any concerns she wants to share. Often the home attendant’s concerns might expose something that is getting in the way of a positive working relationship. If not, you then have an opportunity to share what your experience has been and make specific requests. Is it important to you that you greet each other or make simple pleasantries before you get right to getting out of bed and getting in the shower? Do you wish she was cooking healthier food for your aging relative? This is a time you can let her know that you feel that way. She may just have had different expectations. If it’s helpful, you can record some of these expectations in your work agreement and set another check-in in about a month to see how it’s going.

If you’ve been really clear about changes you’d like to see and the relationship doesn’t improve after repeat discussions, it could be that you and the home attendant are not a good fit.



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