For some time now, there has been a debate as to whether home care works are entitled to minimum wage and overtime protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act or whether health care companies could claim these workers were “exempt” from these protections when paying their employees. Home care workers are those who work with the disabled, the chronically ill, or the cognitively impaired in a home setting. These workers most often help older adults in need of need assistance. As of last count there are currently 2 million such workers in the U.S. With the population of older Americans climbing rapidly, it is estimated that some 1 million additional home care workers will be required to meet demand in the next decade alone.
On August 21, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia issued a ruling on this matter in the case of Home Care Association of America vs. Well. This ruling extends minimum wage and overtime coverage to all home care workers – including those that are live-in care providers, and those employed by a home care agency or privately employed by a family or an individual to perform medical or other domestic duties. As a result of the ruling, the only exemption going forward will apply to those workers hired directly by families or individuals to provide simple companion services like playing cards and taking walks.
The Department of Labor hailed the decision as protecting the rights of workers while simultaneously helping to provide a stable and professional workforce for those seniors needing care and wanting the opportunity to stay in their homes and communities. Many home care agencies, however, view this new rule as having a significant negative impact on their ability to properly meet the needs of the families and individuals they serve. In either case, if you have questions about complying with this new rule, talk to a well trained Connecticut employment lawyer. The attorneys at Kainen, Escalera & McHale each have over 20 years of experience in these employment matters and would be pleased to help you. Please contact us if we can help.
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