Home Health Leaders Keep Close Watch on Overtime Outcome

Home health industry groups are eyeing some relief after a U.S. District Court judge pressed pause on an impending overtime rule that was originally set to hit the nation on Dec. 1.

The overtime rule from the Department of Labor (DOL) would have increased the minimum salary threshold needed to qualify for overtime exemption benefits from the current level of $23,660 annually ($455 per week) to more than double—$47,476 ($913 per week). Home health agencies and home care companies with salaried employees were likely to be impacted.

Many industry groups, including the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) were vocal about the potential burden of the rule since it was first proposed.

“What impact will the injunction have on home care and hospice?” NAHC asked in a statement on the outcome of the judgment. “Previously, NAHC indicated that the new rule could significantly affect private pay companies where salaries of EAP staff often fell below the $47,892 minimum. Also, hospices and home health agencies that pay professional clinical staff on a per visit basis would need to assure that those staff working over 40 hours per week were paid at least $921 weekly in that compensation method.”

The injunction means that the current lower minimum exemption still holds water. However, the judgment is most likely only a delay in the implementation. An appeals process and full hearing are likely to come.

“At some point, the Court will fully hear the case on its merits and issue a final decision,” NAHC noted. “It is more likely than not that the court’s final decision will look a lot like this preliminary ruling. However, there are no guarantees of that. There is also the possibility of an appeal to the Court of Appeal for the Fifth Circuit.”

One bright spot for the rule’s demise may be the outcome of the recent national election. While the rule has been a long-standing goal of the Obama administration, the incoming Trump administration “is likely to take a fresh look at the matter.”

Furthermore, the Republican-dominant Congress has pledged to block and pending regulations from taking effect until the new administration takes over.

The injunction is encouraging for a possibility that the rule could be scrapped entirely, according to NAHC.

Written by Amy Baxter

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