Home care providers have come out on top in a long legal battle to decide whether live-in home care aides in New York should be paid for 24 hours of work or for the 13 hours currently mandated.
The New York Court of Appeal issued its decision in Andryeyeva V. New York Health Care Inc. and Moreno V. Future Care Health Servs. Inc. Tuesday. It reversed the appellate division’s previous decision rejecting the 13-hour rule and upheld the rule as it’s interpreted by the state’s Department of Labor.
The rule requires caregivers to be paid for at least 13 hours of a 24-hour shift as long as the aide is given three hours of meal break time and eight hours of sleep, five of which must be uninterrupted.
Over the past several years, dozens of cases have been filed against home care providers in an attempt to debase that rule, arguing that caregivers should be entitled to 24 hours of pay while working a 24-hour shift. However, the court rejected this premise with its decision, Emina Poricanin, a home care attorney and partner at legal firm Hodgson Russ, explained to HHCN.
“This is a welcome decision for home health care providers who have been troubled by the uncertainty of the law for the past several years,” Poricanin said. “Today’s decision brings to rest at least some of that uncertainty.”
Similarly pleased with the court’s decision was Aaron Schlesinger, a partner with Peckar & Abramson who represented Future Care Health Services Inc.
“It demonstrates the significance of the home health care industry in New York State and validates the long standing opinion of the Department of Labor,” Schlesinger told HHCN via email.
The Home Care Association of New York State (HCA-NYS) also weighed in following the ruling, which could have been financially devastating to home care providers.
“[HCA-NYS] continues to support a structure of regulations and reimbursement that ensures proper compensation and coverage of direct-care staff,” Al Cardillo, president of the industry association, said in a statement shared with HHCN. “We also continue to fervently advocate for state, federal and commercial payor reimbursement to provide wages and benefits reflecting the vital nature and value of the care our home care workers render every day.”
Had the court ruled in favor of caregivers, New York-based home care agencies would have faced potentially disastrous consequences.
Not only would they have been required to pay 24-hour aides for nearly twice as many hours per day as they currently do going forward, but they could have also been held liable for years worth of caregiver backpay.
While the ruling is a major win for home care providers, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of legal fights surrounding the 13-hour rule. The Court of Appeals’ decision goes on to suggest that litigation is appropriate when meal and sleep requirements for 24-hour caregivers are not met.
In instances when the requirements are not met, caregivers should be paid for all 24 hours.