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ISSUE BRIEF: PHI Provides Home Care Final Rule Guidance for New York Officials

October 14, 2015

PHI released new policy guidance on October 13 to help New York State officials effectively implement the new U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Home Care Final Rule, which took effect on that day.

These considerations — described as “five key steps” — are meant to ensure New York’s 300,000 home care workers are paid a fair wage in a timely manner, and elders and people with disabilities experience no disruption in their home care services and supports.

The new DOL home care rule extends federal wage protections to 2 million home care workers across the nation under the Fair Labor Standards Act, including the federal minimum wage, time-and-a-half pay for overtime, and pay for time spent traveling between clients.

“Today’s implementation of the federal home care rule marks an historic turning point for our nation’s home care workforce and everyone who will need home and community-based services and supports,” says PHI President Jodi Sturgeon in a press release.

“Extending federal labor protections to home care workers is a significant step toward building the quality, stable home care workforce our nation needs, and we’re proud to offer the guidance New York officials need to make it a reality,” she said.

In “Five Steps to Implementing the New Federal Home Care Rule” (pdf), PHI lays out what’s needed to successfully implement the new rule, emphasizing the importance of stronger workforce data. Across the country, many states lack sufficient data systems to assess the costs of overtime and travel pay on state Medicaid budgets.

In its new report, PHI recommends action in the following five areas:

  1. Collect current workforce data in order to accurately budget for new costs.
  2. Budget for costs associated with the new home care rule and ensure timely payment.
  3. Protect elders and people living with disabilities by ensuring flexibility in meeting high-hour needs.
  4. Create a Home Care Worker Ombudsman position to inform workers of their new rights and to ensure appropriate compliance.
  5. Commission a labor market analysis to examine the interplay of workforce policies in different low-wage sectors and their impact on the supply of home care aides in different regions of the state.

Under state law, New York’s home care workers have been guaranteed the state minimum wage and overtime pay after a 40-hour workweek; however, overtime wages were based on time-and-a-half of the state minimum wage rather than workers’ actual hourly wages. In New York City, the Wage Parity Law established a minimum-wage floor of $10/hour, beginning in March 2014; thus, overtime pay will increase by about $2 per hour. For the first time, the state’s home care workers will be guaranteed pay for on-the-job travel, such as travel between clients.

DOL announced it will begin enforcing the Home Care Final Rule 30 days after the new rule takes effect (November 12), and it will exercise “prosecutorial discretion” until the end of the year to determine whether to bring enforcement actions.

For more information on the DOL Home Care Final Rule and PHI New York, visit the PHI website.

— by Deane Beebe

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