Monday, December 29, 2014

Costs for live-in health aides in Bergen and Passaic counties set to rise

It hasn’t been easy for Linda Leeder’s family to honor her 92-year-old father’s wish that he remain in his home, despite his advancing Alzheimer’s disease.

To raise money for the live-in aide he requires, his kids secured a reverse mortgage on the home he’s lived in for 55 years. The Franklin Lakes woman figures the financing arrangement will pay for three to four years of home care.

But hotly contested federal labor regulations taking effect Thursday could mean the aide who cares for Leeder’s father will have to be paid overtime for more of her working hours, instead of a flat daily rate.

“I think this will massacre the live-in industry,” said Lenny Verkhoglaz, principal owner of Executive Care, the Hackensack-based employer of the aide.

Verkhoglaz estimates that the cost of a round-the-clock live-in aide — about $67,000 a year — could increase by $10,000.

“Families won’t be able to afford the increases we’d have to charge,” said Verkhoglaz, who estimates that 80 percent of his clients in Bergen, Passaic and three other counties pay out of pocket, often exhausting life savings or home equity.

Worker groups and aging advocates contend that the federal government’s move to put such hourly and live-in aides on par with other protected employee groups will help build a more stable workforce. That, in turn, could lead to less turnover and burnout in a field that will need to expand with the aging of the baby boomer population — a generation more likely to demand home care over institutional care.

“If the business model of the home-care industry is so shaky that they can’t afford to pay people according to federal law, then I think that needs to be considered,” said Sarah Leberstein, staff attorney for the National Employment Law Project.

The group is one of several labor organizations that pressed the Obama administration for the new rules, which are the subject of a two-pronged legal challenge.

The debate over whether live-in home-care workers should be entitled to overtime pay for the hours they are not asleep or on a meal break has simmered for years. The controversy promises to stretch into another year, now that industry groups won a slight reprieve this week from a federal judge who struck down some of the changes scheduled for Thursday.

At issue is a 40-year-old provision of federal wage and overtime laws known as the “companionship exemption.”

The provision, enacted in 1974 amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act, meant that live-in or hourly domestic workers who “provide fellowship, care and protection” to an elderly or infirm person were not entitled to the minimum wage and overtime protections that other domestic workers had.

For nearly a decade, worker advocates have lobbied to do away with the exemption, which they say harkens to an era when relatives informally hired a neighbor or an acquaintance to serve as companions to the elderly. Today, home care is increasingly provided by for-profit elder-care chains that count on a cheap workforce to do a job that has become far more physically and emotionally taxing.

Full Article & Source:
Costs for live-in health aides in Bergen and Passaic counties set to rise

1 comment:

StandUp said...

And the nursing homes are loving this...