Home Care Travel Time Review
Tom Voiles, president of Shoshana Technologies, makers of the Rosemark System, offers these words about travel time in the Home Care Industry.
In 2015, when the Companionship Exemption went away, a lot of things changed in the U.S. Home Care world, but especially the need to pay Overtime and minimum wage to caregivers. Also tucked into all this was the need to pay them Travel Time.
With the changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) began gearing up for increased scrutiny and enforcement of the new rules in Home Care and everyone had to scramble to understand the changes and what they meant for their individual agency.
Travel Time: Concept and Reality in Home Care
On the surface, the basic Travel Time requirements are pretty simple: time spent traveling as part of one’s job, not including basic commuting at the beginning and end of the day, should be compensated. But with Home Care’s wildly-variable circumstances, determining the requirements exactly was not so clear. Especially true when one considers that individual States (and even local municipalities in some cases) may enact different rules.
In the Home Care Industry it is important to recognize that Minimum Wage, Overtime and Travel Time are inextricably linked: the average rate for all hours worked for the week, including Travel Time, must end up being at or above the Minimum Wage, and that rate must be used for calculating Overtime.
Cost and Risk
The administrative tasks of keeping this all straight add to the cost; not doing it properly adds to the risk of prosecution by the DOL (do a search for travel to find information on the DOL website) and/or private litigation. Keeping track of all this can be mind bending. Be sure that the system you are using takes these factors into account.
Some Rules of Thumb to consider for Paying Your Caregivers :
- Travel to the first shift and from the last shift in the day does not generally have to be compensated.
- Travel Time must count toward Overtime!
- You can pay less for Travel Time, but it counts toward the overall average rate of pay for the week for Minimum Wage and Overtime calculation purposes.
- You must pay for the time it takes to get from one shift to the other, not necessarily all the time the caregiver spent between shifts.
- Check State and Local laws to see if they differ from the Federal law. When in doubt, always use the more stringent (i.e. whichever is more advantageous to the worker).
The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions and observations of the author. This information is offered for perspective; it in no way constitutes a recommendation about what is right for your agency. We strongly recommend that you speak with a good labor law attorney to be sure you remain compliant.
We can help you sort through this. Book a Rosemark Home Care Management System demo here!