This newsletter is brought to you by IT Resources. We hope you will enjoy timely information about the home care industry and our top-of-the-line home care software.
Home Care and Employment Law
Recently there have been reports of class action lawsuits against home care agencies that were successful or were settled in the plaintiffs’ favor for not paying employees for the time it takes them to travel between clients.
The FLSA (Federal Fair Labor Standards Act) is unequivocal on this issue: home care aides who don’t have a base office, but travel from place to place are considered itinerant workers and as such the trip to their first assignment is considered a commute and does not need to be reimbursed. Similarly the trip home from the last client is considered a commute and you don’t have to reimburse them for that either; but for all the trips in-between, the aide is traveling on your behalf in the performance of the duties you have assigned and must be reimbursed for the time. (Be sure to get a qualified legal opinion on these matters as we are not employment lawyers.)
At the heart of this issue are minimum wage and overtime rules – two things about which the Labor Department has deeply held convictions. According to our reading of the FLSA, the only way to avoid the minimum wage issue and still be within the law is if the total pay divided by the number of hours worked including travel time is at least equal to the minimum wage. In other words, if your hourly rate is high enough to cover the time traveling between clients you may be okay. But then the overtime rules kick in. What if the total hours plus travel result in overtime? In that case, your higher wage most likely will not protect you; you must pay time-and-a-half for hours worked beyond forty.
Let’s throw another wrench into the machinery. Even if the time between visits doesn’t involve travel and the employee is just biding her time between scheduled visits, you may be liable for what is called “waiting time”. The FLSA is less clear on this one, but suffice it to say that the shorter the waiting time the more likely you will have to pay for it.
Finally, as if your legal headaches weren’t bad enough, what about the costs of travel such as gas and maintenance? Again, your higher wage may cover you. If the total wages paid (including travel and waiting time) plus the costs of transportation divided by the hours worked equals or exceeds minimum wage, you could be okay. If not, uh-oh, the class action lawyers might be circling.
Two things are clear. One, the labor laws are complicated and may put you in jeopardy and two, Home Care IT can help!
We calculate travel time. We can compensate for waiting time (aka transition time or in-between time), and we can calculate mileage for you. You can try to calculate all the permutations yourself, or you can take the risk that you are in compliance without paying for these extra things, or you can let Home Care IT take the worry out of it all and do the calculations for you.
The majority of our customers choose the latter.
We are pleased to announce a new feature for our Aide Portal.
Currently, the Aide Portal allows workers to view their schedule from their Smart Phones, and they can submit a report of tasks they have performed. Using Location Services, they can check in and out of their assignments and the portal will record the time and their location. We match the reported location with the location of the client’s home to provide verification.
With this new update, aides can record a client’s signature.
Clients can sign the task list, and Home Care IT will record the visit time, tasks performed, and signature in the client’s electronic file. (Now can we get rid of paper timeslips?!)
To see the portal in action be sure to contact sales. Current customers please contact support.
EDI (837P) Billing
Home Care IT now offers EDI (form 837P) billing.
The 837P is a complex, non-human readable, billing format standard for CMS. It is used by some payors for non-medical home care services, typically by those who fund medical services as well. By using the EDI format you can submit billing electronically reducing the time it normally takes to submit billing to these types of payors. Using EDI will also facilitate your communication with these entities in regards to rejections, authorizations, etc.
Home Care In The News: Home Care For All In Maine
The Bangor Daily News reports that citizens in Maine have put on the November ballot a provision to provide free home care services to all elderly and disabled people in the state regardless of income.
The services would be paid for by a tax applied on income that exceeds the current cap for social security taxation (currently $128,700). In essence, Maine would extend the current cap on social security tax on individuals (not the business portion) beyond its current limit of $128,700 to pay for the service.
Is retirement in your future? How about expanding your business? Either way, head for Maine!
Trouble in the Big Apple
The New York Times has reported that the New York public transit system has become so dilapidated and unreliable that it is having a significant effect on home care workers.
Since many of these workers cannot afford to live in some of the areas they serve, long subway delays and breakdowns and traffic snarls are causing them to be late to their appointments and in some cases shorten visits to keep up with their schedule. This can adversely affect client well-being and worker income. Reportedly the NYC home care work force totals over 120,000 workers and that is a lot of disrupted schedules and aggravated people!
A New Internet?
Hacks, phishing, and break-ins to Internet connected business and facilities are getting steadily worse. The owner of Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord and Taylor just last week announced that 50 million customers’ information was stolen.
I believe that what is needed is a new Internet (and apparently so do the creators of the hilarious HBO show Silicon Valley! OK, there might be some irony there.).
The new Internet should be secure and un-hackable, and everyone should be identifiable. In my opinion, you should be required to get a license and be registered to use the Information Super-highway, just like you do for the real highway. It should be known who you are and where you can be found. If you break the law, you cannot use the internet. If you want to foment a rebellion or plot a crime, use the old unreliable internet. The rest of us will use the secure Internet for our banking, purchases, and email.
And when that time comes, say goodbye to hackers, spammers, phishers, and snoopers.