Your job as a home care leader requires you to stay familiar with legislative and regulatory changes. It can be overwhelming to try to keep up, but it is imperative that you, or another designee in your agency, stays updated about regulations that can directly affect your clients, your agency, and your team.
Recently, in April 2020 and among the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York had some major changes to the state’s wage parity law that will affect your agency. Here’s what you need to know.
What is the Wage Parity Law?
The New York Home Care Worker Wage Parity Law (also known as Section 3614-c of the New York Public Health Law) contains guidance and minimum requirements for compensation for home health aides who perform Medicaid-covered work throughout New York City and surrounding areas (Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk counties).
The original Wage Parity law ensures home care workers are paid minimum wage as well as a set hourly amount ($4.09 per hour in NYC and $3.22 per hour in the surrounding counties) in a wage and/or supplemental benefits combination. These amounts are not changed in the April 2020 revisions.
How It Affects Distribution of Funds
First, the new amendments lay out new regulations regarding the distribution of funds spent to satisfy the additional wage or supplemental benefit combination. Now, these extra funds are NO LONGER allowed to be returned to the CHHA, LHCSA, LTHHCP, MCP, or FI. Instead, these funds must go to the home care aide to whom the benefits are due.
Double check your distribution of funds and ensure the wage/supplemental benefit money is going to your home care staff and not pushed out via dividends or refunds to other sources.
If your home care agency provides home care aide services through an LHCSA or FI contract, you will need to complete an annual certification that states you are complying with the Wage Parity law and meet those standards. You’ll send in this certification annually to the Department of Health, and it includes the fact that all wages are going to the aides and not going back into the agency (or anyone affiliated with the agency).
When a new home health aide starts at your agency, you will need to provide a Notice of Pay Rate form that includes their wages and type. If you have a third party that administers any of those benefits on your behalf, that will need to be communicated clearly on the Notice of Pay Rate form as well. Further, you will need to show the benefits portion of wages on the weekly wage statement.
Compliance for the new amendments have changed as well and include fines of $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for the second offense as well as potential imprisonment.
If you have a designed Human Resources professional in your organization, work closely with them to ensure your agency is compliant and meets all the new amendments for the Wage Parity legislation. If Human Resources, benefits, and payroll fall on your shoulders, now is the time for an extensive audit of where your supplemental benefit/wage money goes.
As with any change, there will be some feelings of confusion and anxiety. Do your best to not feel overwhelmed by taking the new amendment one change at a time.