New rules for overtime could cost home-care workers

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New U.S. Department of Labor regulations mean almost 2 million home-care aides, who often work long and unpredictable hours, will be paid time-and-a-half for clocking more than 40 hours a week.

But the feds may be doing more harm than good in the case of some of the home-care workers, and the care recipients they set out to help. The changes amount to an unfunded mandate, without additional money for small businesses already facing low margins to pay for it.

Something had to give.

“Most agencies have sent out letters and will no longer pay overtime,” said Dena Belisle, owner of Adena, a provider agency in Lakeland. “I have gotten several clients from them, due to that change. They are not paying overtime, period; anything over 40 hours, which is really sad.”

The rule ends the so-called “companionship services exemption” for personal care assistants, or PCAs, who help the elderly and individuals with special needs — often family members — stay in their homes through subsidized care.

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