This fall, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced that starting in January 2015 it would extend the minimum wage and overtime pay laws to home health care workers in all states. These workers, currently classified as exempt from minimum wage and overtime, provide care to the disabled and elderly populations with at-home tasks including taking prescriptions, bathing, and eating. The new minimum wage and overtime pay laws will apply to home health aides, certified nursing assistants, and personal care aides that work in the homes of the elderly or disabled. The new federal compensation laws, however, will apply only to home healthcare agencies and not to workers who visit the elderly for companionship and/or are employed directly by the individual/family needing the care. This means that direct care workers who perform medically-related work for which training is required who work through an agency will be entitled to minimum and overtime wages.
While these laws may be new to most states, as many as fifteen states already have state laws requiring that the state minimum wage and overtime rules apply to home health care workers and as many as six other states and Washington, D.C. require the application of minimum wage laws to home health care workers but not overtime. As of January 2015, however, health care workers across the country will be able to recover minimum and overtime wages. As a result of the new, higher wages, organizations like the AARP hope older Americans will receive better, more trained care.
Overtime wages for home health care workers will be calculated at one and a half times their regular rate of pay for all hours over 40 in a given workweek. This means that for hours 1 – 40 in a workweek, a health care agency will be required to compensate its workers at least minimum wage ($7.25) and for all hours over 40 in a workweek, the health care agency will be required to compensate its workers at one and a half times their regular hourly rate.