March 7, 2012Mary Ziegler, Director Division of Regulations, Legislation and Interpretation Wage and Hour Division United States Department of Labor Room S-3502 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20210
RE: Wage and Hour Division – (RIN) 1235-AA05 Comments on Proposed Rulemaking Regarding Application of the FLSA to Domestic Service
Dear Ms. Ziegler:
I write to you today because my business, industry, employees, and most importantly, those we support are being put at risk by the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) published by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division on December 27, 2011. This regulation would eliminate the companion care exemption for third party employers, and as a practical matter, makes it rarely usable by others due to the limits placed on personal care. It significantly changes Congressional intent and key components of the Fair Labor Standards Act which has been in place since 1974.
I oppose the NPRM because there is no demonstrable need for regulatory alteration, and the proposed changes will have a profound, adverse impact on fragile, aging seniors and people with disabilities. These changes would severely harm in-home care companies and their employees.
I believe these outcomes are likely consequences should this rule be enacted:
- In-home non-medical care providers, like my company, will face increased costs as we would be required to pay overtime, especially to caregivers who work 24 hour or live-in jobs. This requirement, coupled with new burdensome reporting requirements, will encourage employers to limit caregivers’ hours to 40 hours a week, transition to a shift model for 24 hour or live-in care, thus drastically harming our clients’ continuity of care.
- As the costs of home care rise, 24 hour or live-in care will not be affordable. Those dependent on this service may be forced away from trained, insured, bonded, licensed in-home care providers, opting instead for unskilled workers in the underground “grey market.” Most of these workers will likely not comply with FLSA requirements, nor will they be able to navigate the complexity of the exemption. These independent employees often come without background checks and are uninsured; leaving families without recourse should a crisis arise.
- If in-home care becomes economically unfeasible for families, a greater number of those in need of care could be more likely to utilize public programs, such as Medicaid, leaving taxpayers responsible for the cost of care.
- Ultimately, small-business private duty home care employers, which are labor-intensive and low-margin operations, will be forced to modify their service model in ways that will not benefit those we serve in order to avoid incurring significant increase in costs.
As an in-home care provider, my employees and I see firsthand how hastily-made regulations and laws can leave seniors without the support they need and can create unneeded expenses families can ill afford.
In short, the NPRM will significantly increase in-home non-medical costs. The changes will ultimately lower pay for caregivers, harm continuity of care, threaten the economic viability of private duty companies, increase federal spending on government programs, create a significant loss of federal and state revenue, and incentivize an underground “grey market,” populated by untrained, unsupervised, and unregulated caregivers for whom taxes are not paid.
For these reasons, I urge the DOL to withdraw this NPRM due to the harm it will cause to those who need in-home care, the caregivers who provide it, the companies that employ those caregivers, and the taxpayers who pay for government-subsidized long-term care.
Stanton Lawson is the Co-Owner of Sequoia Senior Solutions. Sequoia’s mission is to ensure a better quality of life for their elderly clients and their families, by providing dependable and affordable in-home care. Sequoia’s focus is to keep you or your loved ones at home and avoid:
- Loss of friends and possessions
- Loss of independence and freedom
- Loss of spirit which is drained by the battles of daily living
Sequoia Senior Solutions, Inc. services Napa, Sonoma, Marin, Solano, Mendocino, Lake Counties. The main office is located at191 Lynch Creek Way, Suite 102, Petaluma, CA 94954. Email firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: (707) 763-6600 Fax: (707) 763-6607, www.sequoiaseniorsolutions.com.