On the heels of the U.S. Department of Labor’s expansion of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime rules to home care workers, California home care agencies will face another challenge with the recent passage of the Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act (AB 1217). This law provides for the licensure and regulation of home care organizations and registration of home care aides. It takes effect on January 1, 2015 and will be administered by California’s Department of Social Services.
The law requires California home care agencies to obtain a state license and renew it every two years, or pay a $900 fine per day. Agencies must also conduct background checks on workers, ensure they are cleared on the state’s registry and complete required training, assess their performance annually, and supervise their activities every 90 days. Agencies that have a principal place of business in another state are required to maintain an office in California and store all pertinent records in California. To obtain a license, agencies must submit proof of general and professional liability insurance as well as a valid workers’ compensation policy. In addition, their owners must pass a background examination.
Home care aides will also be subject to more rigorous requirements. They must apply for registration, undergo a background check including fingerprint analysis and a review of prior criminal convictions, demonstrate they are free of tuberculosis, and attend five hours of entry-level training. After their initial registration, aides are required to renew their registration every two years, and complete five hours of annual training. The state will maintain an online registry listing aides’ names, registration information, and locations.
Violations of the law will subject agencies and aides to enforcement procedures, fines, and penalties, including criminal penalties. The Department will investigate complaints and conduct random inspections. Certain fees will also be charged, such as license and renewal fees.
Home care agencies in California should carefully plan how they will comply with this new law and how it will affect their operating costs and procedures. Employment counsel can advise agencies regarding lawful background checks, performance management systems, and appropriate supervisory activities, as required by the law.