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New York Partially Funds Overtime Pay for Attendants

December 22, 2014

New York State has agreed to allocate $5 million to pay the overtime wages and travel time of the personal assistants in the state’s Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP), the administration of Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) announced December 2.

In a press release, Bryan O’Malley, executive director of the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Association of New York State (CDPAANYS), called the announcement “a big victory” for workers and their consumers, but expressed concern that the funding is inadequate to fully pay for workers’ overtime wages.

Cuomo’s announcement comes in advance of a rule change to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Beginning January 1, home care workers will be newly eligible for federal minimum wage and time-and-a-half overtime pay and for paid travel time between clients under certain circumstances.

In the months leading up to the implementation of the federal rule change, New York advocates for home care workers, consumers, and their family members expressed concern that the state would cap personal assistants’ hours at 40 hours per week to avoid paying overtime. (New York State already requires minimum wage and overtime pay for home care workers. But overtime pay is currently based on time-and-a-half of the state’s minimum wage rather than the workers’ hourly wage rate.)

A cap would limit workers’ income and not all consumers can hire additional workers to make up the missing hours, advocates said.

The $5 million will pay for some, but not all, of the extra wages necessitated by the rule change, advocates say. At least $20 million would be needed to fully fund the rule change in the CDPAANYS program, O’Malley said.

New York is in the process of surveying the fiscal intermediaries throughout the state to determine the projected impact of the rule change on the CDPAANYS program. Additionally, the trade associations are surveying home care agencies to determine how the changes in the rule affect these providers. However, the state has not indicated willingness to address these costs, said PHI New York State Policy Director Carol Rodat.

Upcoming Legislative Day

On February 25, New York State advocates will gather in Albany for their annual Legislative Day, organized by CDPAANYS and the New York Association for Independent Living (NYAIL), to talk to state lawmakers about fully funding the rule change.

Advocates will also use the Legislative Day to bring awareness to the more general topic of low wages for personal assistants, among other issues.

— by Matthew Ozga

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