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Three New Legislative Actions in Washington that Could Affect your Private Duty Home Care Business recent update from the Home Care Association of America gives you some new information about three new legislative activities taking place in Washington DC that could affect your Home Care business.

Senate Bill (S.1687) to Address Worker Misclassification

On Nov. 12, 2013, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the Payroll Fraud Prevention Act of 2013 (S.1687), which is meant to help ensure that employees are not misclassified as non-employees. The bill has already struck very partisan tones with some Republican Senators defending the rights of independent contractors.

S.1687 amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) to require every person (including every employer and enterprise) that employs an employee or non-employee who performs labor or services, including through an entity such as a trust, estate, partnership, association, company, or corporation, to: (1) classify such individuals accurately as employees or non-employees; and (2) notify each new employee and new non-employee of his or her classification as an employee or non-employee, together with information concerning their legal rights.

The bill doubles the amount of liquidated damages for maximum hours, minimum wage, and notice of classification violations by an employer. It subjects a person who: (1) violates such requirements (including recordkeeping requirements) to a civil penalty of up to $1,100; or (2) repeatedly or willfully violates such requirements to a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for each violation.

Move to Increase Minimum Wage

Senate Democrats are trying to generate support for legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), the Chairman of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, is the sponsor of the Minimum Wage Fairness Act (S. 1737) that would increase the minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour in three increments.

Thereafter, the minimum wage would increase annually, with the increase indexed to inflation. Senator Harkin has stated that the bill will not be considered in Committee, but will move directly to the floor. The bill also includes some tax provisions favorable to some small businesses, but reports are that the tax provisions are still being negotiated.

House Hearing on Companionship Exemption Rule

At a recent hearing of the Subcommittee on the Workforce Protections of the House Education and Workforce Committee, House Republicans and Democrats argued over the impact of the U.S. Labor Department’s final rule requiring minimum wage and overtime pay for home care workers. Home care providers also disagreed as to the true impact of the final rule.

Chairman Tim Walberg (R-MI) stated that the rule would create unfair burdens on families and reduce wages by cutting back workers’ hours. In a number of cases, patients and families would have to pay higher charges, leaving them less able to arrange for care at home. That could mean they would give up on that approach and seek to place loved ones in nursing homes.

But the leading Democrat at the hearing and one of the industry witnesses staunchly defended the rule as a boon to both workers and their clients. It will “help stabilize and encourage employment in this field, which is necessary to meet the growing workforce demands for in-home care services,” said Rep. Joe Courtney, (D-CT).

What Do YOU Think?
What do you think about these three legislative initiatives?  How would their passage into law affect your home care company? Your clients? Your caregivers?
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