Wage & Labor Protections

There have been a number of recent changes to wage and labor protections for home care aides. These changes, detailed below, create a complex network of rules that can be confusing:

  1. Wage Parity: As part of its effort to redesign the state Medicaid program, the New York legislature in 2011 passed a wage parity requirement for home care aides. By establishing a wage floor, the legislation brought the compensation of home health aides in line with that of home attendants in the downstate areas of New York City, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties. As of March 1, 2016, the wage parity law guarantees home care aides compensation (including wages and benefits) of $13.22 per hour in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties and compensation of $14.09 per hour in NYC (see MRT-61 Home Care Worker Wage Parity). The requirement does not apply to workers in upstate New York. A recent amendment to the law requires a continuation of the benefits of $4.09 for New York City and $3.22 for the surrounding counties on top of the new minimum wage (see #2).

  2. Minimum Wage: The state minimum wage increased from $8.75 to $9.00 per hour on December 31, 2015. This increase had its greatest impact on workers in the upstate area, as downstate workers are covered by the wage parity law, which currently sets the wage floor above the minimum wage. With the recently passed New York FY17 budget, the minimum wage is scheduled to rise to $15 per hour in NYC by 2018 and in Westchester and Long Island by 2121. The rest of the state will increase to $12.50 by 2020 with a pause for review to determine the impact on the economy. As these increases go into place, the wage portion of the wage parity requirement will be $10 an hour or the new minimum wage, whichever is higher.

  3. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): In October of 2015, home care aides across the country became eligible for labor protections under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). As a result, home care aides are now protected by minimum wage laws, and must be paid time-and-a-half on their base wage (instead of time-and-a-half of the minimum wage, as was previously the case in NYS) for overtime above 40 hours per week. Employers are also newly responsible for paying aides for time spent traveling between clients (see FLSA Facts: Understanding the Revised Companionship Exemption).

  4. New York State Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (DWBR):Enacted in November 2010, this law previously only applied to home care aides directly employed by clients. Upon the reinterpretation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (see #5), this law became applicable to agency-employed home care aides as well. In addition to guaranteeing workers one day of rest each week and three additional paid days off per year, the law provides certain protections against discrimination and harassment.

  5. Paid Sick Leave: Home care aides who work in New York City are protected by the City’s Earned Sick Time Act, which went into effect in 2014. Full-time workers are guaranteed one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours of work, which may be taken to care for oneself or a loved one. This law also guarantees two days of sick leave, in addition to the three days of rest provided by the NYS Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (see NYC Paid Sick Leave Law).

Due to the confusing nature of labor and wage protections for home care workers, PHI believes there is a need for a Home Care Worker Advocate to serve as a neutral source of information and support for home care workers and their employers.

For this reason, PHI applauds the establishment of the City’s new Office of Labor Standards and the passage of legislation that creates the Division of Paid Care within this office, which will serve direct care workers in day care and home care settings.

Log In / Create Account

Log in to existing account: