The New York Court of Appeals recently heard arguments regarding the 13-hour rule that the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) implemented. This rule had been challenged by a number of organizations for being unfair, especially to those in home care workers who work 24 hour shifts.
Under this rule, an employer only has to pay home health aides for 13 hours of work, so long as they have a minimum of three hours break time for meals and eight hours of sleep (with a minimum of five hours uninterrupted). Opponents to this rule say these workers deserve to be paid for 24 hours, or essentially every hour they are with a client, but home care agencies and other advocates have argued that would essentially cripple the industry, making it impossible to provide much-needed around-the-clock care for thousands of New York residents.
The New York Court of Appeals upheld the Department of Labor’s rule change, which will allow, for the time being, residents who require this type of care to continue receiving it.
According to The National Law Review’s summary blog, New York’s Highest Court Upholds 13-Hour Rule for Payment of Live-in Home Health Aides:
“The Andryeyeva/Moreno decision is a significant victory for home health care industry employers. But although the ruling eliminates the possibility that adherence to the 13-hour rule will provide a basis for class certification, it is possible that the plaintiffs could provide evidence of an alternative policy or practice to support certification. Additionally, employers may want to remain vigilant and ensure compliance with the strict requirements of the 13-hour rule. The Court of Appeals reminded employers that these requirements are “hair trigger” and that noncompliance “immediately makes the employer liable for paying every hour of the 24-hour shift, not just the actual hours worked.””
There was no immediate word on whether this decision will be appealed, but it will likely make its way toward the U.S. Supreme Court. This rule change specifically focuses on live in employees, and while its interest is in the number of hours one of these home health care providers is paid, it doesn’t take into account ancillary benefits, which may include housing, room and board, or other paid expenses.
Opponents to the rule change are fighting to have every hour a home care aide is in a residence paid, but whether this is a noble goal or not, such an implementation could potentially cripple 24 hour care for New York residents. For now, the New York Court of Appeals has upheld the 13 hour rule. It’s also important to keep in mind this 13 hour rule doesn’t mean an agency can’t pay its home care aides for more hours, but the minimum must be 13.