How to Pay a Live-In Home Health Aid

by David Goldfarb

Many adults with health issues require around-the-clock assistance—at least when they are awake. While some people will move into long-term care facilities, many others will want to remain in their own homes where they feel most comfortable. The home health care industry provides important assistance to those adults who want to stay at home but who can no longer care for themselves. Instead of a rotating door of home health assistants, many people choose to hire a live-in aide whom they can get to know and trust.

However, paying someone to stay with you or a loved one 24 hours a day can prove expensive. After all, live-in home health care workers are entitled to minimum wage just like anyone else, which is at least $12 per hour in New York City as of December 13, 2017. This means that a year’s worth of care can cost upwards of $105,000 or more. Some people need home health assistance for years, which can quickly deplete their assets.

Anyone who hires live-in assistance must ensure full compliance with all wage and labor laws. If you fail to pay a live-in worker adequately, you can face costly liability and back pay should that person take legal action down the line. An experienced elder law attorney can help make sure you comply with all applicable laws so you don’t risk your assets.

New Rules Regarding Live-In Home Health Aides

Interpretations of labor laws regarding the payment of home health aides who worked 24-hour shifts have swarmed in New York recently. The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) had previously issued opinions that anyone paying 24-hour home health aides could exclude three hours per day for meal times and eight hours a day for sleep time. However, New York Appellate Courts caused confusion by ruling in three cases that home health aides should receive pay for all 24 hours of their shifts.

The NYSDOL claimed that such a requirement would threaten the home health industry and cause many people to needlessly face institutionalization at a long-term care facility because they could not afford to pay for 24 hours’ worth of care each day. Therefore, the NYSDOL recently issued an emergency amendment to its Minimum Wage Order with only one change: the Wage Order “shall not be construed to require that the minimum wage is paid for meal periods and sleep times…for a home care aide who works a shift of 24 hours or more.” This codifies that you are not required to pay a home health aide for more than 13 hours per 24-hour shift, accounting for times allotted for sleeping and eating.  However, there are also Federal labor laws and regulations which may apply and the courts have not come to a final resolution on this issue.

A New York Elder Law Attorney Can Assist You

As an aging adult or a family member of an aging adult, it is natural for all of the options regarding health care and the cost of each to cause confusion. At Goldfarb Abrandt Salzman & Kutzin LLP, we can advise you regarding the pros and cons of each option. Call our office at (212) 387-8400 or contact us online to set up a consultation today.