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The U.S. Department of Labor’s proposal to eliminate the companionship exemption will require caregivers be paid overtime for hours worked over 40 per week. This will create an undue burden on the agencies providing the care, the clients and the caregivers. The clients will now be faced with a choice. Homecare is very expensive as it is. Being expected to pay time and a half will be onerous. Clients wising to remain at home and who now have e.g. one caregiver each week will now face the prospect of multiple caregivers each week.
The agencies providing care will be forced to hire, train and restaff many more caregivers than necessary in order to satisfy their clients needs. This will create an administrative nightmare as they try and manage the hours worked.
The caregivers will likely face the biggest burden. Caregivers who currently work at just one client per week but work over 40 hours per week will now have to give up some part of the work. Caregivers who now work for multiple clients each week even though they are at each client for less than 40 hours, will be forced to give up those hours too. The agency cannot bill the clients for overtime since the caregiver worked for each client for less than 40 hours per week. Lets say a caregiver works for 30 hours per week for two clients. The agency will pay the caregiver the regular rate for the 40 hours but be required to pay overtime on the 20 hours. Neither client can be billed for overtime. The agency will likely not allow this to happen since they couldn’t recoup their cost.
The clients requiring long hour care will lose the continuity of care that is so critical to their well being. The agencies will be prevented from staffing the best fitted caregivers to the most appropriately matched clients because of this consideration. All in all this change, while well-intentioned will have a dire negative impact on the elderly, the families and everyone involved in providing home care.
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