Rights for Respite Workers

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    Rights for Respite Workers

    Certain items have been altered in this story to protect the confidentiality of all parties involved.

    You are a social worker and someone you know comes to you with this situation for help:

    The situation involves a 20-plus year old individual who provides respite work for a family on a regular basis. As part of the duties of being a respite worker, the worker signs receipts stating hourly rates and monthly wages of work which get submitted to the respite funding body for accountability of funding. It is the duty of the family to disperse the respite funds they receive from the funding body. Upon the starting of respite work, the family suggests providing monthly cheques for payment of services. Given this, the respite worker receives a monthly cheque from the family. For personal reasons, the respite worker has not gone to the bank to cash two previous cheques for completed respite hours. These cheques are less than 3-months old. In Canada, cheques are valid for up to 6-months, so the respite worker’s understanding is that although it is less than ideal, the worker should be able to deposit the money any time up until that date without repercussion – especially because the money is from an external funding source to cover respite work hours from an employer (the family). The respite worker had not had discussions about cheque cashing timeframes, nor did the respite worker receive the cheques in the same timeframe each month. There has been no formal contract signed related to funding/cheque deposit times and the respite worker understood receipt of a cheque as a promise of payment. The respite worker has completed the previous respite receipts which were sent to the respite funding care worker, so the hours worked have been systematically reported as payed.

    The respite worker contacts the respite family to discuss the plan to cash the previous cheques and acknowledge the potential inconvenience this may cause. This is in an effort to apologize about delayed cashing of the cheques and to ensure the family is aware the sum of money will be coming out all at once. It is the respite worker’s assumption that the family would have noticed that the funding was not taken out. The family becomes agitated that the cheques have not been cashed immediately upon receipt. The family has the perspective and assumption that when you receive a cheque you are to immediately cash said cheque. The family informs the respite worker that they manage their personal funds by the amount in their bank account and so it appeared additional money was available to the family each month. The family did not question the additional funds that were available to them each month the cheque wasn’t cashed, but instead chose to spend the money elsewhere on unknown means. You are informed that there are no funds available anymore to cover these previous cheques for work already completed. The family is reluctant to discuss the situation with you and instead requests to speak to your parents, whom are not involved in the situation whatsoever. The family expresses that a burden has been placed on them by having to deal with the cheques. The family asserts that you need to bring the two cheques that have not been cashed to a meeting with the family the following day. They assert that you need to cross each cheque out before the meeting, thus making them invalid for payment. The purpose is solely to destroy the cheques so they will not be cashed, which has been explicitly told to you by the family in writing. They continually reiterate the cheques will not be cashed and they simply do not have the funds to pay the agreed upon amounts.

    Keeping in mind that these respite hours have already been submitted to the funding source as paid, and are now being refused to the worker. The respite worker continually offers to discuss solutions for proceeding in a respectful manner that is manageable for the family. Upon attempts to discuss future plans to ease the situation or accommodate payment plans over an extended period, the family refuses to cooperate. The family provides an ultimatum that the cheques must be voided and brought to the meeting or else they will withhold the cheque payment for the current and previous month’s respite hours that have already been completed. Along with this, they state that non-compliance with voiding the cheques and handing them over will result in the family refusing to discuss the situation further. The respite worker fears that if they refuse to void the cheques the family will simply put a stop payment on all of the outstanding cheques or that if the respite worker attempts to cash the cheques they will bounce. The respite worker is concerned about what cashing the cheques will do to the family’s current available funds – which the respite worker has continually attempted to acknowledged by trying to discuss a payment situation with the family originally.

    Questions for discussion:

    1) How do you approach settling this situation?
    2) Who’s rights are being violated?
    3) Do you go to the bank and attempt to cash all cheques which are rightfully yours as the worker, which may inconvenience the family?
    4) Who do you contact for support?
    5) Do you continue to work for the family who has threatened to halt paying your current and future hours worked?
    6) You are no longer comfortable working with this family, how much notice should you provide to leave this respite position?
    7) Do you discuss this situation with the respite funding care worker?
    8) Who do you turn to when trying to determine your rights as a respite worker?



    It’s imperative to know your lawful rights when you are an unpaid carer. The Australian Government has made an ActOpens in another window, to build acknowledgment and consciousness of carers. Most state and regions likewise have enactment that sets out your rights as a carer.
    A carer is somebody who gives unpaid individual care, support and help for somebody. You may look after somebody who is delicate and matured, or has an incapacity, a dysfunctional behavior, a medication or liquor habit, a long haul well being condition, or a terminal ailment. The individual may be a relative, a companion or a neighbor.

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