PHI Sends Home Care Recommendations to N.Y. Worker Exploitation Task Force
Earlier this year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) created the Task Force to Combat Worker Exploitation and Abuse, which is composed of representatives from a wide variety of state agencies. The task force is charged with providing recommendations to the governor on policies to prevent worker exploitation in 14 key industries — one of which is home health care.
An advisory committee, composed of experts and advocates from the 14 industries, will be issuing its legislative, administrative, and regulatory recommendations to the task force in December 2015.
PHI submitted a statement to the advisory committee, which begins by laying out the challenges facing home care workers in the areas of wages, benefits, training, and safety. The statement then puts forth three recommendations to help address these challenges, which include:
- Create a Home Care Worker Ombudsperson. This ombudsperson would help home care aides navigate the complicated rules and practices around wages, benefits, and safety. The ombudsperson would educate workers and employers on wage and benefit rules and forward worker complaints to the proper agency for investigation.
- Clarify where wage and labor rule enforcement will occur. The state agency responsible for paying for wage and hour requirements (the Department of Health) is different from the agency that is in charge of labor law, interpretation, and violations (the Department of Labor). The state should develop a communication and enforcement system involving these two agencies to ensure wage and labor practices are adequately monitored and enforced.
- Develop a strong system of workforce data collection, monitoring, and reporting. Despite the fact that the state collects regular data on other health care professions (e.g., physicians, RNs), it does not regularly track the home care aide workforce. This data is necessary to allow the state to budget for wage changes (i.e., an increase in minimum wage); identify and address worker shortages; and allocate the funding needed to attract and retain these valuable workers.
The full PHI statement is available online.
— by Allison Cook, PHI New York Policy Associate