Are Employees Who Need the Money Being Taken Advantages of by Their Employers


I work as a caregiver. Unlike many employees able to switch to remote working, we caregivers traveled to our clients in their homes. They needed us to shower, cook, and clean. For some of these people, we were their only contact with the outside world. We risked our lives every time we went out. We cared for and worried about our clients’ health. Even with masking, gloves, and goggles, we stressed.

I recently learned that our state’s budget includes hazard pay for caregivers like me who worked through the pandemic. My understanding is this funding is to provide wage-increases for caregivers. This was to reward us for the dangers we faced and to grant money to family caregivers. This money also helps families who have children with cerebral palsy or another a disability—imagine not being able to provide for your family because you can’t find care for your child.

In a recent annual review, I received a positive review for my year of hard work and a raise of 25 cents an hour. That same week, my employer called an all-hands meeting on another subject, but didn’t mention the money that was won for us.

I don’t want to make waves and am leaving the profession, but worry about the caregivers who perform this needed, under-appreciated work. What are my and their rights? What is due to them?


Let’s look at this specific legislation and the issue you raised.

An internet search reveals at least one state budget includes money, in one case, $32,875,000 of federal and state funding, to support increased wages for personal care attendants. The accompanying documentation also states it’s up to employers to provide wage increases.

Your larger question is whether your employer is wrongfully withholding money you and other caregivers should receive. I don’t one hundred percent know the answer to your question, and it may be your employer hasn’t yet received the money or is in the process of allocating it. If you call or email your state representative, he or she may be able to give you more definitive information.

Meanwhile, I posed your concern to attorney Charles Krugel to learn how often this happens. Says Krugel, “It’s not unheard of for employers to pocket federal and state pandemic relief monies for themselves. This happens too often, but more often than not they’re caught. On a macro level, it’s a drain on our resources because it takes taxpayer money to disclose, investigate and prosecute that misconduct. On a micro level, it’s usually wage theft. There are a lot of employers who just don’t get it.” 

If you’re not receiving money due you, you’re not alone. My inbox filled during the pandemic with emails from other employees who felt their employers had sought and kept relief money intended for employees. The federal government is investigating employers that applied for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) monies to meet payroll expenses and retain employees but use that money for other reasons ( According to Jackson Spencer Law, many business owners mistakenly thought they could use the money however they wanted, “for example, paying themselves” (

Finally, your letter made it clear you and other caregivers put your clients’ interests first and foremost. Thank you. I’m grateful to you and the other front-line workers who wore masks and provided essential services at their own risk.  

(c) 2022 Lynne Curry

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4 thoughts on “Are Employees Who Need the Money Being Taken Advantages of by Their Employers

  1. The letter doesn’t make it clear whether the employer has even applied for such money. Just as not all employers applied for the pandemic relief funds, it’s possible not all in this sector have applied for these funds. I also wonder, if they did apply, if the intent is to give the extra funds out as a bonus rather than a wage increase. Wage increases are forever, and government handouts usually only happen once.

  2. The superficial cost/benefit ratio of the reprehensible act of employers ‘hoarding’ the money intended to be used to help out employees is obvious. It does ‘cost a lot of money to investigate and prosecute.’
    But, in the longer term, that money is well spent. It:
    * demonstrates that the government/lender is willing to pursue those who violate the intention and facts of the law and process
    * demonstrates to the employees that the government has THEIR interest in mind and will prosecute to protect that
    * ensures that the money will ultimately get to those it was intended for
    * helps to uncover and deter present and future violators of the process – without that there is no disincentive to not do it again
    * can help to recover some of the money that is being mishandled – and should include considerable penalties, recovered to fund the losses and expenses of the process
    * will (hopefully) get some of the rogue employers out of the system and reduce collateral damages that they surely perpetrate in other areas – if they cheat a program like this, they’ll cheat on taxes, contracts and more

    I despise the ‘cost of investigations, prosecution, and incarceration.’ It’s a HUGE drag on our economy and an unfair expense on the honest, taxpaying members of our society. But the alternative is an unrestrained and disrespected and non-functional system whereby corporate greed and theft is rewarded without penalty. And THAT is more wrong!

  3. Caregivers are empathic, marvelous people, who live the caring. It is discouraging but all too common and likely, apparently, that their employers aren’t necessarily so caring and the employers may feel entitled to pocket compensation that was intended for caregivers and their added struggles and exposure to dangers while giving care during the worst of the pandemic. Wage theft and unethical behavior are the tags here. It is unfortunate, too, that the best or only way to resolve some of the issues raised is by hiring an attorney and suing–it’s costly and a drawn-out process for dealing with wast should have been a given.

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