HARTFORD, Conn. (June 13, 2019)—A line item in the Connecticut state budget is causing concern for the state’s homecare agencies. If passed, Section 305 would ban noncompete and nonsolicitation clauses between homecare agencies and caregivers. The provision would apply only to homemaker, companion or home health services.
A standard six-month nonsolicitation clause in employment contracts prevents homecare employees from working for a client on their own or taking the client with them to another agency if the agency matched that caregiver to the client. It does not prevent a caregiver from finding and working with independent clients.
“Standard, lawful and limited nonsolicitation agreements require only that employees refrain from converting people the agency has matched them with into private clients, or from taking those clients with them to a competing homecare company. Without this narrow limitation, homecare agencies are at risk of losing their clients to the very people they hired and trained to care for them,” Joe Markley, a former Connecticut state senator who is communications liaison for Companions and Homemakers of Farmington, Conn., said in an editorial for the Connecticut Mirror.
“Homecare companies invest much to bring a homecare aide to a level of competency and trust sufficient to place in someone’s home,” said National Association of Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) President William A. Dombi. “To allow a client and caregiver to bypass the home care agency without consequence once a relationship is established will create a high risk that homecare becomes a bad business. That will result in an additional barrier to care in the home. Prohibiting a reasonable noncompetition agreement between a homecare employer and employee is not good policy for care in the home.”
The national organization is not aware of similar legislation in other states.
The provision enjoys support in Gov. Ned Lamont’s office, in spite of calls for a line-item veto. It was originally part of human services bill proposed by the governor earlier this year.
“We strongly believe the health, safety, and comfort of our elderly or persons with disabilities should not be disrupted by an employer limiting their employees with unfair practices,” said Maribel La Luz, a Lamont spokeswoman. “We look forward to this prohibition becoming state law and ending a practice that diminishes the quality of life for some of our most vulnerable communities.”
In a letter released by Lamont’s office, three nonprofit law offices serving low-income Connecticut residents expressed support for the provision. The law offices argued that noncompete clauses suppress wages for low-income workers such as home caregivers.
The provision is expected to be signed into law as part of the budget package.