Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act Continues to Provide Hope for Underpaid and Overworked Health Aids

In the Summer 2007 edition of the Wage and Hour Quarterly, we reviewed the Supreme Court’s disappointing holding in Long Island Care at Home, Ltd. v. Coke, 127 S. Ct. 2339 (2007), that home health aids are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime provisions. On a more optimistic note, however, we observed that home health aids might be entitled to overtime pay under Pennsylvania’s more worker-friendly Minimum Wage Act.

Recent filings in a pending Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court proceeding entitled Bayada Nurses, Inc. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Labor and Industry, Docket No. 477 M.D. 2007, reveal that the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry agrees with The Winebrake Law Firm’s view that the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act (PMWA) entitles home health aids to overtime pay. Also, in the absence of an exemption, the PMWA may entitle home health aids to be paid for time spent traveling between clients during the workday.

Home health aids are among the most overworked and underpaid workers in Pennsylvania. They usually are employed by third-party home health agencies, and their jobs consist of visiting the homes of elderly or disabled clients to assist with daily living activities such as dressing, bathing, housekeeping, and cooking. Many home health aids work over 40 hours per week without receiving the time-and-one-half overtime premium, and they almost never are paid for the substantial time they spend traveling between clients during the workday.

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