Home caregiver helping senior woman walking at home

A coalition of 17 healthcare organizations is urging the US Department of Labor to exempt skilled nursing and other healthcare providers from a proposal that would more strictly limit how employers classify workers paid on an hourly basis. 

The proposed rule, according to the federal government, is meant to combat employee misclassification and clarify guidelines for classifying workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The ultimate test is whether the worker is “economically dependent” on an employer, the Labor Department maintains.

“Misclassification deprives workers of their federal labor protections, including their right to be paid their full, legally earned wages. The Department of Labor remains committed to addressing the issue of misclassification,” Labor Secretary Marty Walsh stated when the proposed rule was announced in October. 

In a Dec. 13 letter to Walsh, however, the coalition called the rule, as written, “problematic” and said it should be reevaluated with healthcare in mind. According to the organizations, the proposed rule could exacerbate ongoing labor shortages across the industry. As previously reported by the McKnight’s Business Daily, long-term care has particularly felt the sting of workforce challenges.

“A skilled nursing facility, telehealth practice, rural health clinic, or other small provider might not have sufficient demand to sustain a full-time practitioner, but could contract with a practitioner to ensure patient access to specialized care several days a week,” according to the coalition.

Nursing homes and home health agencies are specifically mentioned in the Labor Department’s proposal.

“The Department of Labor should also recognize that individuals may choose to be employed as independent contractors in order to best serve the needs of their organization and the broader community,” the coalition wrote in its letter.

Coalition members: 

  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • American Academy of Neurology
  • American Academy of Physician Associates
  • American Association for Respiratory Care
  • American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology
  • American Association of Nurse Practitioners
  • American College of Emergency Physicians
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • American Medical Association
  • Anxiety and Depression Association of America
  • California Medical Association
  • Clinical Social Work Association
  • National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
  • National Association of Rural Health Clinics
  • National Rural Health Association
  • Society of General Internal Medicine
  • Texas Medical Association

The deadline for comments on the proposal was Nov. 28.