Senior caregivers working as companion caregivers were exempt from over-time pay in a 2007 Supreme Court ruling. Now, new legislation proposed by the O'bama Administration would kill this exemption. This would mean companion caregivers could receive over-time pay, including those who do daily live-in care and receive a daily stipend instead of hourly pay.
Workers exceeding a 40-hour work week qualify for overtime pay at time-and-a-half to meet the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Companion caregivers have been exempt from this. It is true that companion caregivers may not be working non-stop when sitting with a senior who may have memory loss. At the same time, caregiving can be challenging both emotionally and physically.
Senior care companies can rotate caregivers if a senior needs around-the-clock caregiving, to make sure that none of the caregivers exceeds a 40-hour work week.
The National Association for Home Care and Hospice says the change in the overtime exemption will not benefit the caregiver workers, but instead would lead to hospices and senior home care agencies staffing more caregivers to take care of a cilent. You can read more about the proposed change to caregiver overtime in our news section and post a comment to the story.
It is important to note that senior caregivers may work for a private duty senior home care agency, hospice agency or home health agency or for a state agency which receives payments through Medicare or Medicaid.
Home care costs Medicaid and Medicare about $56 billion annually. The proposed change is projected to cost about $100 million a year, mostly in overtime costs. Twenty-one states provide minimum-wage protection for more than half the nation's hoome care workers and 15 also provide overtime pay protection. Most private-duty caregivers are paid above minimum wage and from $10 to $15 per hour, depending on if they live in a metropolitan or rural area.
In 1974, President Bill Clinton sought to change the the exemption from the Fair Labor Standards Act's wage and overtime rules, but President George W. Bush reversed that effort.
Some caregivers working for agencies reimbursed by state programs receive pay that is below minimum wage but some of these caregivers are family members and do not have strict caregiver schedules. As a shortage of caregivers is predicted, as the population ages, most likely pay increases will follow.
As providing senior care services has become competitive, many senior home care agencies, including the agency I owned for 7 years, do pay overtime to caregivers as an added benefit to maintain quality caregivers.