Employees Smarter Than Legislators

Last night was the first of this year’s fall in-service training for Support For Home‘s employee caregivers here in California. We covered a number of topics, one of which was the upcoming impact of a number of laws passed by the California Legislature and signed by Governor Brown this year.  The “centerpiece” of the new laws, in terms of quickest and most dramatic impact on home care and on our employees is AB241, which goes into effect on January 1, 2014. AB241 eliminates the overtime exemption which has benefited both Home Care Aides and clients for many years. It creates an overtime situation after 9 hours in a day and after 45 hours in a week.

Readers of this blog will have worked their way through a number of earlier posts on the topic of federal and state laws and regulations that will be hurting the people they purport to help – caregivers and the clients and families the caregivers support.

At Support For Home, we believe in transparency, with our employees and our clients.  We do not keep secrets. Last night we walked through the arithmetic of AB241 with our Home Care Aides. I have included a few of the foils in this post, along with some of the comments of our employees.

The first foil compares the cost to clients and families for 24-hour care as it is right now and what it would be on January 1, 2014, if the same staffing model is used.

B241 Impact on Caregivers

What we see in this foil would be wonderful, if clients and families could afford the increase in costs. However, they cannot do so, and the Legislature knows this. Medicare, Kaiser, Humana, Blue Cross, … all will NOT pay for non-clinical home care, even though it is critical to our client’s health and well-being.  Legislators know this. So do our employees! The first reaction from several caregivers last night was, “my clients cannot afford that!”

So, what really will happen to Home Care Aides’ wages, under this new law. Below are a couple of additional foils we discussed with them last night. Again, they get it! They know that while superficially, removing the overtime exemption sounds good politically, it does not work in non-clinical home care, because the additional cost cannot be passed along to consumers.

The only way to avoid dramatic increases in costs to clients / families involves a ridiculous pattern, for both caregivers and clients – sending six (6) caregivers into clients’ homes each week, with each caregiver working no more than 40 hours per week:

AB241 8-Hour Shifts for 24-Hour Care

If we were forced to implement that model, folks who are making $192 per 24-hour shift, totaling $768 for a 4-shift week, would be making only $320 for the entire week’s work.  For our employees, we have to find other models. This one is simply too painful.

During our discussion last night, one of our more senior Home Care Aides asked the critical question: “The Legislators – what were they thinking?!” Frankly, I had to admit that the answer is a mystery to me, as we actually attended legislative hearings and presented the issues of what is very simple arithmetic, to a set of glazed-over eyes. What were they thinking? Well, the answer depends on how cynical one is, unfortunately.

We will discuss this more, as we hold more discussions with our employees – and with our clients and their families.

In the meantime, best wishes.  Bert


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