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How to Get Paid Correctly for an Overnight Shift

INA Blog How to Get Paid Correctly for an Overnight Shift 1By GTM Payroll and HR

Often parents will turn to you for overnight or weekend care of their children. Maybe work trips take them out of town or they plan a getaway to have some time together without their little ones.

How do you get paid for these extra shifts? Your employer may just want to pay a flat fee but that could violate wage laws if it does not cover all hours worked at a legal pay rate. Doing it the right way depends on a few factors like when the shift happens and state laws.

Here’s what you and your employer need to know when you work an overnight shift or other extra hours.

Overnight shift during the week
Your employer will be out of town for a work meeting during the week and need you to stay with the children overnight while they are away. You work your normal shift during the day, remain at the home through the evening and overnight, and then work, as usual, the next day.

All hours that you are at the home must be paid. Since the overnight care is adjoining with a scheduled workday, federal law says eight hours of uninterrupted sleep time can be unpaid. If you need to get up to feed or change a baby or tend to a sick child, then that sleep time must be paid.

You must also be given adequate sleeping arrangements like a guest room.

Outside of sleep time, all hours when you are not free to leave the premises and when not completely relieved of your duties must be paid.

Overtime rules may come into play if any extra hours during a workweek – like an overnight shift – pushyour work hours to more than 40 for that week. All hours that exceed 40 in a workweek must be paid at an overtime rate of time-and-a-half.
Families may also add a stipend to your pay if they work an overnight shift.

Overnight shift on the weekend
Your employers have planned a quick weekend overnight getaway to celebrate their anniversary. You will be with the children while they are away. Typically, you work Monday through Friday but are now coming in on a Saturday.

According to federal law, there is no sleep time exemption for shifts less than 24 hours. So if you are coming in on a Saturday at 4 p.m. and will work until Sunday at noon, the entire 20 hours must be paid. If you are already at or over 40 hours in your work week, then this extra shift must be paid at the overtime rate.

Work shifts of less than 24 hours

A household employee must be paid for the entire time they are working for any shift that is less than 24 hours. This includes time they need to be on the premises even if they are allowed to sleep or engage in other personal activities.

Work shifts of more than 24 hours

When an employee is working a shift of 24 hours or more, sleep time can be excluded if:

  • adequate sleeping facilities are furnished by the employer
  • the employee’s time spent sleeping is usually uninterrupted
  • there is an expressed or implied agreement to exclude sleep time

An “expressed or implied agreement” regarding the exclusion of sleep time means either a written or verbal agreement that you will not be paid for sleep time or an agreement to exclude sleep time that is implied by you and your employer’s conduct. If you object to the exclusion of sleep time from your hours worked, no such agreement exists and all hours spent on duty, including time spent sleeping, must be counted as work time.

For “adequate sleeping facilities,” in general, your family must ensure that you have:

  • access to basic sleeping amenities
  • reasonable standards of comfort
  • basic bathroom and kitchen facilities

The sleeping area and other facilities can be shared or private.
Interruptions during which you perform tasks on behalf of your employer must always be paid as work time. If the interruptions are so frequent that you cannot get reasonable periods of sleep totaling at least five hours during the scheduled sleeping period, the entire period must be counted as time spent working and paid accordingly.

More information can be found on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Domestic Service Final Rule Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Include overnights in your contract

If you know you may be needed for the occasional overnight or weekend shift, have your family add it to your work agreement at the start of employment. That way everyone is clear on expectations and pay. If it is something that comes up after employment is underway, the nanny contract can be amended to include additional sections on overnights and 24-hour shifts. Negotiating overnight compensation in advance will help avoid any misunderstandings with your employer.

Since 1991, GTM Payroll Services has been working with nanny agencies and their families to give them the best value when it comes to payroll and taxes. Our process improvements and efficiencies have kept costs down, and we’re committed to keeping our clients ecstatic. In addition, GTM is the only household payroll provider that offers in-house workers’ compensation. This saves families time and effort in securing coverage and handling audits and claims.

If you’re a nanny that knows a family that could use GTM’s nanny tax and payroll service, send them our way. If they sign up with us, you’ll get a $75 Amazon gift card! Just fill out this form.

Visit us at GTM.com/household, or call (800) 929-9213 to learn more about our nanny payroll and tax services.


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