Understanding Per Diem Employee Rights

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Written By LoydMartin

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Ever wondered what rights per diem employees have? If you’re working on a per diem basis or considering this employment type, understanding your rights is crucial. Let’s dive into the world of per diem employee rights and uncover the essential aspects that ensure fair treatment and legal protection. So, buckle up, and let’s explore!

What Are Per Diem Employees?

Per diem employees are hired to work on an as-needed basis. This term, derived from Latin, means “per day,” reflecting the nature of their employment. These workers are often found in industries like healthcare, education, and hospitality, where the demand for staff fluctuates.

Rights of Per Diem Employees

Employment Status and Benefits

  1. Employment Classification: Per diem employees are typically classified as temporary or contingent workers. This classification impacts their eligibility for various benefits and protections.
  2. Wages: Per diem employees must receive at least the minimum wage set by federal or state laws. Employers cannot use the per diem status to pay below this threshold.
  3. Overtime Pay: Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), per diem employees are entitled to overtime pay if they work over 40 hours in a workweek. This is one right that remains consistent regardless of their temporary status.

Health and Safety

  1. Safe Working Conditions: Per diem employees have the right to safe working conditions. Employers must adhere to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations to prevent workplace hazards.
  2. Workers’ Compensation: If a per diem employee is injured on the job, they are typically eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. This coverage includes medical expenses and compensation for lost wages during recovery.

Discrimination and Harassment

  1. Equal Opportunity: Per diem employees are protected against discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  2. Harassment Protections: Employers must ensure a harassment-free workplace. Per diem employees have the right to report harassment without fear of retaliation.

Leave Entitlements

  1. Family and Medical Leave: While the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) generally covers only full-time employees, some per diem workers may be eligible if they meet specific criteria, such as working a certain number of hours over the past year.
  2. Paid Sick Leave: In states or cities with paid sick leave laws, per diem employees may accrue leave based on the number of hours worked. It’s crucial to check local regulations for specifics.

Challenges Faced by Per Diem Employees

Job Security

Per diem employees often face uncertainty regarding their work schedules. Employers can alter or cancel shifts with little notice, leading to inconsistent income and job instability.

Limited Benefits

Unlike full-time employees, per diem workers usually do not receive benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, or paid time off. This lack of benefits can be a significant drawback.

Lack of Advancement Opportunities

Per diem positions are often seen as temporary roles, which can limit opportunities for career advancement and professional development.

How to Navigate Per Diem Employment

Know Your Rights

Understanding your rights as a per diem employee is the first step toward protecting yourself. Familiarize yourself with federal, state, and local labor laws that apply to your employment situation.

Communicate with Your Employer

Maintain open communication with your employer regarding your schedule, pay, and any concerns you may have. Clear communication can help prevent misunderstandings and ensure you are treated fairly.

Keep Records

Document your work hours, pay rates, and any communications with your employer. This documentation can be invaluable if you need to address any disputes or issues.


Q: Can per diem employees be classified as independent contractors? A: While per diem employees can sometimes be misclassified as independent contractors, they typically have a different status. Independent contractors are self-employed and have more control over their work, whereas per diem employees are under the employer’s direction and control.

Q: Are per diem employees eligible for unemployment benefits? A: Eligibility for unemployment benefits varies by state. Some states allow per diem employees to collect unemployment if they meet certain criteria, such as having earned a minimum amount of wages and being available for work.

Q: Can a per diem employee be forced to work overtime? A: Per diem employees can be asked to work overtime, but they must be compensated according to overtime laws. They also have the right to decline overtime work unless it is a condition of their employment.


Per Diem Employee Rights play a crucial role in many industries, offering flexibility for both workers and employers. However, it’s essential to understand the rights and protections afforded to these employees to ensure fair treatment. By knowing your rights, communicating effectively with your employer, and keeping detailed records, you can navigate per diem employment successfully.

Authoritative Links

  1. U.S. Department of Labor (DOL): www.dol.gov
  2. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): www.osha.gov
  3. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/flsa
  4. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fmla
  5. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): www.eeoc.gov