01.30.2012 0

Tricking the elderly…not just for used car salesmen anymore

By Rebecca DiFede — The Department of Labor (DOL) is at it again with another regulation that can only be described as inane.

The proposed rule deals with the domestic service provided to employers who are aged or who have become infirm and thus need companions to assist in their general care.

Specifically, it wishes to make sure that the domestic companions are not being taken advantage of, and thus have drafted a list of exemptions to their rules and made complying with the letter of the rule very difficult.

One section of the DOL proposal deals with the necessity to adjust the clothing of the aged or infirm person in the event of a change in weather. For example, if the weather changes from sun to rain, a rain coat and rain boots might be required and, since the aged or infirm person is unable to do so themselves their caregiver must assist them.

Seems pretty standard.

But the changes suggested by the Wage and Hour division state that this type of assistance is “permissible, however the Department does not envision this task as being a regular and recurring part of the companions duties”. Hmm.

So apparently, in the land of greed where the DOL exists, there is no frequent weather change? If memory serves, the DOL headquarters is in Washington, D.C., which has more rapid weather changes than the set of a Hollywood film.

Not only does this seem blatantly unreasonable, but it makes a mockery of the person requiring the care. As if after a certain amount of times, the companion is rendered unable to help anymore and then the care recipient will need to figure out how to do it on their own, in order to be fair to the companion.

This seems to defeat the entire purpose of the companion’s existence. If the care recipients were able to perform these actions themselves, they wouldn’t need someone to do it for them.

Another absurd little gem hidden within this proposed rule is in regards to the restrictions on food preparation and consumption. The DOL proposed changes state that “The Department proposes to require that in order for food preparation to be considered as an incidental activity, the food prepared by the companion must be eaten by the aged or infirm person while the companion is present”.

As if that weren’t crazy enough, the rule goes on to state that companions should not be required to cook a week’s worth of food while the person being cared for is doing other things. Their reasoning being, that it “would not be attendant to and in conjunction with providing fellowship and protection.”

The rule is very clear that any request for performance of a duty by the companion for the care recipient that is not covered, the exemption can be lost and then the care recipient may be unable to afford care on their own.

So not only is this part of the proposed rule ludicrous in its suggestion that companions are required to cook for their care recipients only if the recipient intends to eat it in their presence, but also its wording seems intentionally confusing. As if the DOL wishes to deliberately deprive the aged and infirm care by rendering them unable to understand their own companionship regulations.

The rule goes on to have several more provisions, each more confounding than the last. But what is suspiciously not included in the reasoning behind the rule, is the fact that all of this is being fueled by a push for unionization by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Ah yes, the SEIU. Those purple-shirted goons who stole money from families dealing with cerebral palsy, and a host of other indiscretions, have now come to steal from the elderly. How charming.

Perhaps they seek to run the Wage and Hour division, who as of now don’t have a Senate designated leader. Kind of makes you wonder who is running this barrage against the aged and infirm.

Furthermore, this entire proposed rule, with all of its bells and whistles are nothing more than an attempt to take money away from the care recipients and put it into the eager hands of their “companions”. With such long and intricate policies most care recipients would have no idea whether or not an act by their companion would result in an exemption, thus giving the Department of Labor license to swiftly remove their ability to receive care.

Incredibly, it would also likely lead to opening the doors for the “caregiver” to sue the estate of their deceased former employer making claims that would be impossible to refute while they raided the estate for additional payments.

For shame, Wage and Hour division, for shame. Didn’t anyone ever teach you to respect your elders?

Rebecca DiFede is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government.

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