Tag Archives: Home health care

DOL Issues Guidance for Determining Whether Registries are Employers of Home Caregivers in the “Gig Economy”

Health care registry companies provide families and their loved ones with peace of mind by providing matchmaking and referral services for qualified, pre-screened and vetted home caregivers. They often also provide administrative services. As part of the “gig economy,” health care registries often tread a fine line in classifying caregivers as independent contractors rather than employees. A new Field Assistance Bulletin (“Bulletin”), “Determining Whether Nurse or Caregiver Registries are Employers of the Caregiver,” issued on July 13, 2018, by the Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) of the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) to its field enforcement staff, provides a road map on how homecare, nurse, and caregiver registries relying on an independent contractor business model can ensure the caregivers remain independent contractors not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).

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Another 24-Hour Wage Hour Decision for the Home Health Care Industry – Employment Law This Week

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Employment Law This Week (Episode 88: Week of September 25, 2017) has released bonus footage of its interview with Michael McGahan, a Member of the Firm at Epstein Becker Green.

As Mike discusses, New York home care agencies typically pay sleep-in home health aides for 13 hours per day, relying on a 2010 opinion from the state Department of Labor. Two home health attendants who claimed they did not “live in” the homes of their clients filed suit against their employers, claiming that their patients’ need for 24-hour supervision required them to be working or on call for all 24 hours. They argued that they should have been paid the minimum wage for each hour. A state appellate court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, finding that the 13-hour rule violates the state’s minimum wage law. The Department of Health is currently reviewing the decision.

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Appellate Division Second Department Declines to Defer to NYSDOL Opinion Letter and Rules That Home Healthcare Attendants May Be Entitled to Wages for Hours Worked In Excess of 13 Hours a Day

In New York, State Department of Labor (“DOL”) regulations provide that the minimum wage must be paid for each hour an employee is “required to be available for work at a place prescribed by the employer.” (12 NYCRR § 142-2.1(b)) (“Wage Order”). Exception is made for a “residential employee,” defined as one who lives on the premises of the employer, during his or her sleeping hours or any time he or she is free to leave the place of employment. Id.

On March 1, 2010, the DOL issued an Opinion Letter advising that sleep-in employees, whether or not they are residential employees, who work a twenty-four hour shift must be paid not less than for thirteen hours for a twenty-four hour period provided they are afforded at least eight hours for sleep, actually received at least five hours of uninterrupted sleep and are afforded at least three hours for meals. (NYS St. Dept. of Labor OP. No-09-0169 at 4 (March 11, 2010)). The Opinion Letter was a reiteration of the DOL’s long standing interpretation of the Wage Order as applied to home health care attendants, and agencies assigning attendants to twenty-four hour shifts have long followed it in paying the attendants for this shift.

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Referral Sources Held to be Protectable Legitimate Business Interests

The Florida Supreme Court ruled last week that referral sources in the home healthcare industry can be protected legitimate business interests under the state law governing non-compete agreements, thus finding enforceable such a restriction on a former marketing employee who left for a competitor.

Although the Florida statute in question (542.335) does not specifically list “referral sources” as one of the five categories of business interests subject to protection, the Court notes that those enumerated categories are prefaced by the phrase “including, but not limited to” thereby finding that the list is not meant to be exhaustive and may necessarily include other interests which may justify enforceability of a non-compete agreement.

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