Three Questions with Ryan Whittington

Text Size: A A

September 2013

By Samantha Liss

Reporter, St. Louis Business Journal

Home health aides across the country are going to earn more money and overtime thanks to new federal regulations released this week.

The Department of Labor now requires home health aides, workers who do not provide medical care, to be paid the federal minimum wage after being excluding from such regulations since 1974 under the “companionship exemption.”

Ryan Whittington, director of operations for Seniors Home Care, a Webster Groves-based senior care provider with revenue of $3.2 million in 2012, said the new regulations will change how the industry operates.

What’s the impact on your business?

We always offered more than minimum wage, so from that perspective it won’t change. From an industry perspective, it will likely result in companies hiring more employees so workers are not working overtime. We’ll make sure we don’t work employees over 40 hours, and we’ll hire more caregivers to make up that difference.

What’s the industry impact?

It will reduce or eliminate those caregivers who have been mismanaged or overworked, which is a positive for consumers. Since there are companies that provide care for four days in a row, it will — in some ways — change our industry because now other providers will have to provide care as a shift. It’ll bring up the wages that other companies pay their employees, so I think overall it levels the playing field.

Did you see it coming?

We knew it was looming. We just thought it was off the table, so it was a little surprising to hear this week. We had been on conference calls with the Home Care Association of America, but we didn’t know it was really going to happen.