New federal labor rules jeopardize Kansas Disability Services

Aug 14, 2014

Credit khi.org

The Secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services says new federal labor rules may interfere with services that help disabled Kansans live in their own homes.  The concern is about overtime for workers who are hired and supervised by people with disabilities reported Bryan Thompson for Kansas Public Radio.

KDADS Secretary Kari Bruffett told a legislative panel a new rule scheduled to go into effect January first will change the way overtime is calculated for these workers.  She says if a worker serves two separate clients, and the combined time on duty exceeds 40 hours a week, that worker would be eligible for overtime.  Bruffett used the fast food industry as an analogy…

“An individual who held a job at Burger King and also at McDonalds would be eligible for overtime if the hours worked between the two were combined, eligible for travel time between the two work sites, and would be forced to choose which job they would keep, ” says Bruffett.

What’s more, people who stay with clients to help them in the middle of the night would have to be paid for all the time they’re present—even if they’re asleep most of the time.

Bruffett says, “At the very least, it would have to be changed significantly, in a way that probably would mean fewer consumers would be eligible for it.”

Bruffett says along with the state’s likely move to prohibit people like personal care attendants from working more than 40 hours a week, that could mean some people might no longer have enough help to live at home.  She says the state could not afford to provide the current level of services under the new rules.  In a prepared statement, the Labor Department says it’s working to help states identify options that will protect both workers and consumers. 

To listen to the story from Bryan Thompson for Kansas Public Radio, go to kansaspublicradio.org