The home health care industry throughout the state of New York could have been significantly hampered if a Department of Labor’s new guidelines had been allowed to stand. These guidelines would have required home care agencies and other employers supervising workers over 24 hour shifts (sometimes referred to as live-in care) to pay for all 24 hours they were on duty.
This would have meant, even though the live–in caregiver would have been sleeping, resting, and sometimes relaxing when services weren’t necessary, that those workers would have received pay for each of those hours, regardless. However, a court decision reversed a lower court’s ruling as well as a trial court ruling that will, for the time being, help protect the viability of the home care sector to continue providing services to those who need around the clock care. It will also help seniors and disabled adults continue receiving that level of care, when necessary.
As reported by Lexology, in its blog, A Paramount Reversal Just Saved the NY Home Care Industry, written by Lisa M. Griffith and Ira D. Wincott:
“Tuesday’s decision in Andryeyeva v. New York Health Care, Inc. and Moreno v. Future Care Health Care Services, Inc., reversed lower appellate court and trial court rulings that refused to give deference to the NY DOL’s interpretive guidance and directed that home care aides were entitled to compensation for every hour of a 24-hour shift, regardless of breaks. An alternative decision would have been devastating and quite literally could have led to the collapse of the industry.”
This is a significant relief for home care agencies throughout New York as well as those who rely on the services they provide. There have been numerous class-action lawsuits claiming that individuals working “24–hour shifts” should be entitled to pay for every hour, even though they may not actually have been working each of those hours and may have been compensated with other benefits, including room and board.
This court ruling did send back to the lower courts an issue to determine regarding whether class action treatment of these cases is appropriate, at least as far as it pertains to home care aides who are not getting enough time and breaks for requisite sleep and meals, yet are only being paid for up to 13 hours of a 24 hour shift.
Home care agencies across the state are breathing a sigh of relief because, if the ruling had not gone in their favor, it’s certain that many of these agencies would no longer have been able to afford paying to provide 24–hour, live in care to clients. For now, though, seniors and disabled adults who need the services the most may continue relying on them.