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Compliance in 2022: How Agencies Can Have a Happy and Compliant New Year

01-14-2022
Nadia Hercules

The saying goes “new year, new you,” but when it comes to payroll and human resources, it is more like “new year, more compliance.” How well does your home health or home care agency adhere to state and federal compliance guidelines?

In order to start the new year off right and stay compliant throughout the rest of 2022, let’s look at some of the compliance factors that you need to keep an eye out for. Some of these may just be good reminders for regulations that were already in effect in prior years and still apply in 2022 – it’s never too late to get it right – while others are new developments you might not have heard much about yet.

Payroll
Staying in compliance with ever-changing payroll rules is one of the many issues that in-home care agencies encounter. Providers of both home health and home care services face a possibly unprecedented flood of payroll compliance issues over the next 12 months, with new federal legislation – on top of existing, complex federal and state laws. Here are some questions that agency owners and administrators should ask themselves to help avoid making mistakes:

    • Are there any regulatory changes that I’m aware of? Is it possible that I was unaware of the law before it was changed?
    • Do I know if a particular regulatory change affects my organization?
    • How does my agency deal with a change if it applies?

Don’t forget to double-check all of your pay calculations too. Improper pay is a sure-fire way to start the year off on the wrong foot. Here are a few types to look out for:

    • Retroactive pay
    • FLSA overtime
    • Blended rates
    • 13-hour rule (New York)
    • 7th day overtime (New York)
    • Misclassification of employees (exempt versus nonexempt)

HR
As an agency owner or administrator, you are responsible for keeping up to date on current and changing compliance legislation as well as drafting written compliance policies and procedures and providing employee training.

It is your responsibility to implement such training so that written policies and procedures in your employee handbook do not go unnoticed if anyone didn’t read it.

And if you haven’t revised your handbook in the last couple of years, it’s probably time for an update. What things should you cover?

    • Provide harassment, discrimination, and sensitivity training
      • Train staff on what to report, when to report it, and how to report it, even if it’s anonymously, and include such protocols in your written plan.
    • Update old policies
      • Send changes to staff via email and make sure they understand where to access your written compliance policies and procedures.
      • Include or modify safety procedures for the “new normal.”
    • Strengthen your culture
      • Create a culture of trust in the workplace so that employees know there will be no retaliation if they disclose something illegal.

What else should in-home care agencies be aware of when it comes to non-compliance?

Joint Employment
42 states, including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Ohio, and California, allow some form of consumer-directed home care, where the patient can pick their caregiver and the care will still be reimbursed. In this case, the agency’s job is not to be the employer but to be the conduit of the reimbursements to the caregiver. With these cases, an agency may find itself in a joint-liability or joint-employment situation. Since the agency is paying caregivers under its own FEIN, the agency can be held liable for workplace accidents or injuries to caregivers, property, and third parties.

Of course, in-home care compliance isn’t just limited to payroll and HR, and there are other government agencies besides the IRS and DOL to keep an eye out for. As always, familiarize yourself with all federal, state, and local laws that apply to your business, and consult with your legal, accounting, and tax advisors to ensure you’re staying compliant.

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