On Friday, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued an opinion upholding a regulation by the Department of Labor which requires the payment of overtime to employees of home health care agencies. Given the huge number of baby boomers that require in-home health care, this is a significant ruling.
This means that the mega for-profit home health care agencies that rake in millions on the backs of skilled caregivers must now pay their employees the same wages that most of America has been entitled to since the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed in 1938. Quite frankly, it’s a shame that the Department of Labor had to pass this regulation to ensure that home health care workers were paid the overtime they rightfully deserve. But, to be sure, huge home health care conglomerates like American Homepatient, Gentiva Health Services, and Amedisys Inc. fought hard to strike down the regulation.
The regulation was passed by the Department of Labor in response to the huge boom in the for-profit in-home health care industry in the past 20 years. Domestic and healthcare services that used to be provided by family members and neighbors are increasingly being provided by companies that profit richly from these services. While it made sense to avoid overtime payments to friends and family, since the funds were generally provided by the person receiving the care and services, the Department now properly recognized that overtime pay should be provided to employees of these large for-profit corporations. In short, the Department of Labor got this one right and it’s shameful that the home health care industry saw the need to fight this regulation in the courts.
One additional point should not be forgotten. According to attorney Brandon Bogle, with Levin Papantonio law firm, the home health care overtime regulation likely will apply retroactively. This means that employees who have been working in the home health care industry and not paid overtime for work performed beyond 40 hours per week should have a valid legal claim to recover overtime pay now.