The State of America’s Direct Support Workforce Crisis 2022

The longstanding direct support workforce crisis, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has led to closures of critically needed services and a denial of access to community-based supports.
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Capitol Correspondence - 04.07.20

Department of Labor Issues Temporary Rule on Paid Leave for Coronavirus

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The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a temporary rule regarding how American workers and employers will benefit from the protections and relief offered by two components of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA): the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act. FFCRA became law in early March; the regulations issued in the DOL rule took effect immediately on April 1, 2020.

One provision particularly relevant to people with disabilities and those who support them is the definition of health care providers who may be exempted from the rule. Supports and services essential to the well-being of people with disabilities are having to balance the health of Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who are on the frontlines of the outbreak with keeping individuals who need daily assistance healthy.

While ANCOR recommends that our members seek legal counsel when determining how the new regulations affect your organization, our attorneys are of the opinion that the definition of “health care provider” was intentionally defined broadly to include services like community supports for people with disabilities. While congressional committee leaders expressed dissatisfaction with DOL’s rulemaking, setting the stage for a potential legal battle with the Administration, the DOL rule has the force of law unless courts decide otherwise should litigation arise.

To obtain further regulatory certainty, ANCOR encourages providers to ask their governors to define DSPs as essential health workers–and we set up a one-step Twitter tool to make it easy to do so! Additionally, ANCOR is pushing aggressively for disability support providers to be eligible for federal funding allocated by the CARES Act to soften the blow of enormously increased expenses and lost revenues wrought by COVID-19.

Don’t miss this opportunity in the meantime: DOL is in the process of developing guidance and toolkits for employers on FFCRA and is asking for stakeholder input through April 10. As announced by DOL:

“The U.S. Department of Labor is hosting a national online dialogue, now extended until close of business on April 10, 2020, to provide employers and employees with an innovative opportunity to offer their perspective as the Department develops compliance assistance materials and outreach strategies related to the implementation of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). [ANCOR note: the original deadline was March 29.]

The ideas and comments gathered from this dialogue will inform compliance assistance guidance, resources, and tools, as well as outreach approaches, that assist employers and employees in understanding their responsibilities and rights under the FFCRA.

Starting April 1, USDOL will launch a campaign to solicit feedback on the FFCRA compliance assistance tools as part of the national online dialogue. USDOL has questions and answers, posters, and fact sheets available to help employers understand their obligations and employees understand their rights under the FFCRA. What about these tools is working? What isn’t working? How can we improve them to ensure they are understandable and accessible?

Anybody who is interested can participate online at https://ffcra.ideascale.com through April 10, 2020.”