Smiling female healthcare worker driving car seen through windshield

A bill before the New York City Council threatens to make the home care crisis in the Big Apple even worse.

The city council is considering a law that would limit the number of hours home health workers can be on the job each week. The legislation introduced last week by city councilman Christopher Marte and public advocate Jumanne Williams would extend the New York City Fair Workweek Law, which currently covers fast food and retail workers, to home health workers as well.

Kathy Febraio, president and CEO of the New York State Association of Health Care Providers, told McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse the measure is a poor remedy for the home care crisis.

“Providers are already struggling to serve the existing home care need due to the lack of available workers,” Febraio said in an email. “And while no one should be compelled to accept work hours they do not want, the proposed bill will tie the hands of providers that are challenged to staff a growing number of cases.”

The bill would specifically prohibit employers from assigning a home health aide to a single shift exceeding 12 hours, consecutive 12-hour shifts, or multiple shifts totaling 12 hours in an 24-hour period. The bill would also prohibit home health aides from working more than 50 hours in a single work week. 

New York State law allows employers to schedule home care aides to 24-hour shifts, which are commonly referred to as  live-in shifts. In those arrangements, the employer only has to compensate the aide for 13 hours of work, as long as the worker has an opportunity to receive eight hours of sleep — of which five hours are uninterrupted by a call to work — and three hours of meal breaks. There is no cap on the number of hours an aide may work during a work week, provided the aide receives a day of rest over a seven-day period. 

If the bill becomes law, it will be difficult for employers to staff live-in aides and could also potentially limit the amount of money home health aides make. 

New York is in the midst of a severe caregiver crisis. PHI National, estimates the Empire State will need to recruit approximately 80,000 direct care workers within the next few years.  The state’s new budget provided $7.4 billion in bonuses and higher wages for home health aides in an effort to attract more workers to the industry.