The New York Department of Labor (DOL) has issued an emergency update to its minimum-wage regulations in which it stresses that home health care employers should pay workers for just 13 hours of any 24-hour shifts.
Specifically, as outlined in the NY DOL’s regulations: “…This subdivision shall not be construed to require that the minimum wage be paid for meal periods and sleep times that are excluded from hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended… for a home care aide who works a shift of 24 hours or more.”
The emergency rule could be good news for in-home care providers, which could have been forced to pay for all 24 hours of a shift, including sleep and meal periods, according to a recent court ruling. This decision originated from two rulings — Andryeyeva v. New York Health Care, Inc. and Moreno v. Future Care Health Services, Inc. — issued in mid September by the New York Appeals Court.
NY DOL’s decision to reinforce the state’s 13-hour rule is welcomed by those in the industry, including the New York Association of Health Care Providers (HCP).
Despite this move, HCP President Claudia Hammar is calling for state officials to ensure that in-home care agencies are not held up with backpay from the last six years, in accordance with another court ruling, Tokhatman v. HumanCare, LLC, filed earlier this year.
“While we appreciate that the state issued this guidance, HCP and the home care industry need the state to take immediate steps to ensure that home care providers that have followed previous State Labor 24-hour live-in payment guidance in good faith will not be held liable for six years of retroactive payments,” Hammar said in a press release.
These retroactive payments will bankrupt a significant number of home care agencies, jeopardizing essential care for New York’s most vulnerable populations, she added.
Written by Carlo Calma