As members know, HCAOA has nearly 20 active state chapters that focus on state-specific legislative and advocacy issues, conferences and education, and information sharing. In recent weeks, three additional states have expressed their interest in forming a state chapter: New York, South Dakota, and West Virginia. HCAOA is in talks with leaders in the state and is holding a series of informational webinars to discuss the home care priorities for advocacy in each state.
New York City Councilman Seeks to Include Home Care Companies in City Fair Workweek Law, HCAOA Voices Opposition
New York City Councilman Christopher Marte recently introduced a bill that would amend the city’s Fair Workweek law by expanding it to cover employers in the home care industry. Specifically, the bill prohibits employers from assigning a caregiver to: (1) a single shift exceeding 12 hours; (2) consecutive 12-hour shifts; or (3) multiple shifts totaling more than 12 hours in any 24-hour period. It would also prohibit caregivers from working more than 50 hours in any single workweek. The bill, if passed, would effectively create a situation where home health care agencies would be unable to staff “live-in” cases. For instance, by allowing only 12-hour shifts and eliminating the traditional “live-in” (24-hour) shift, agencies that work with Medicaid-eligible patients, would have to staff each “live-in” shift with two aides—instead of one—and would receive reimbursement from Medicaid (if applicable) for only 13 of the 24 hours.
HCAOA contacted Councilman Marte to voice opposition to the bill, citing that caregivers should have the flexibility to work the shifts that are best for them and have the opportunity to work sufficient hours to meet their needs. Even with increases in minimum wage and the coming additional caregiver wage increases, HCAOA members believe there will still be the desire among some caregivers to exercise the flexibility to work more than 12 hours on occasion and more than 50 hours in a week.
HCAOA also emphasized that Councilman Marte’s proposal would further hamper an already overburdened home care community from providing safe, effective, and badly needed home care in New York. In fact, it would exacerbate the caregiver shortage, leaving our elderly or otherwise disabled clients in peril.
HCAOA will continue to follow up with his office and to offer additional suggestions and comments.
The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission issued long-awaited initial rules implementing the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act, which Governor Murphy signed on February 22, 2021. The Act legalizes the use of recreational marijuana for adults over the age of 21 and creates many obstacles for employers seeking to maintain a drug-free workplace. The new rules deal almost exclusively with the provisions governing the recreational cannabis market, leaving many employer questions unanswered.
Several States Issue COVID Vaccine Mandates: HCAOA Chapters Seeking Clarification on Requirements for Home Care
Several states have recently announced COVID-19 vaccine mandates for health care workers, and HCAOA and state chapters are working with state officials to clarify how these mandates impact home care. For example, mandates in Washington, California, and New York do not include home care in some settings, while the order in New Jersey does include home care.
In an effort to prevent the occupational exposure to an airborne infectious disease, the New York legislature has passed the aptly named New York Health and Essential Rights Act, or NY HERO Act, which amends the New York Labor Law (NYLL) by adding two new sections. This bill has been delivered to Governor Cuomo’s desk and he is expected to sign it into law. Unlike other states, New York does not have robust and longstanding state occupational safety and health laws, standards and mechanisms. This bill is therefore notable because it represents one of the rare times that New York State has passed laws setting minimum safety standards that apply to the private sector. read more
On March 12, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation providing all public and private employees in New York up to four hours of paid leave per vaccine injection to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine. The new law, which adds a new Section 159-c to the New York Civil Service Law and a new Section 196-c to the New York Labor Law, provides that the paid COVID-19 vaccination leave may not be charged against any other leave that the employee is entitled to, such as any paid sick leave or any leave provided under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The law, which expires by its terms on December 21, 2022, requires that employers provide a “sufficient period of time,” up to four hours, to be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay, for each COVID-19 vaccine injection. read more
Effective December 31, 2020, the minimum wage increased for all private sector employees in the state except for those who work in New York City. The minimum wage increased from $13.00 to $14.00 per hour for employees working in Long Island and Westchester, and from $11.80 per hour to $12.50 per hour for the rest of the state except New York City, where the minimum is already $15.00 per hour. This could lead to an increase in labor costs for employers in New York.