Provider gets contract extension as pay issues persist for home care workers


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Home health workers try to get paid by their payroll company. (Photo by Shana Surek) Credit: Shana Surek photo

The state’s Department of Social Services extended the contract of a controversial supplier who, according to union officials, continued to deny paychecks to home care workers due to trivial administrative errors and has regularly hurt handled or ignored complaints.

The workers, known as personal care assistants, filed thousands of grievances against Allied Community Resources, even as it operated under a corrective action plan the agency had enforced for months, union officials said. The New England Healthcare Workers Union District 1199 SEIU, which represents more than 7,000 home care workers paid by Allied, wanted the company replaced when its contract with the state expired on the 30th. June.

But a spokesperson for the state agency said on Wednesday the contract had been extended until December 31. A request for proposals that was slated to come out months ago has yet to be released, but will be released shortly, he said.

In a written statement, Allied officials acknowledged that they processed more than 7,000 timesheets each week, amounting to an average of $ 2.5 million funded by state and federal government money.

“About 2% are received with timesheet errors that cannot be resolved in time for payroll processing,” said the statement from company executives Carol Bohnet and Don Waddell. “Allied needs employer confirmation for issues like missing signatures and dates, overlapping hours with other vendors, and unreadable information.”

“Unpaid timesheets and reasons are reported to the state every week by Allied and we are working with the state to find ways to minimize the issues,” their statement said.

The company is expected to receive $ 775,377 in fiscal 2021 for its work with the DSS home care program, according to agency spokesperson Dave Dearborn. Allied will earn $ 14.7 million from all of its DSS contracts in the same time frame.

Home care union director and vice president Diedre Murch said the DSS told him a few weeks ago that he had no date to go out to tender for a new contract, even though he was it was supposed to be released in January. “They keep pushing the deadline back,” Murch said.

The contract extension follows months of unrest. More than a dozen SEIU members and their supporters were arrested in February after blocking Allied Community Services’ Enfield alley in protest over lingering pay problems. Workers, who by law cannot strike, called on state officials to increase DSS funding to provide better health care, a path to a $ 20 an hour wage and paid time off .

In the meantime, its previous issues have placed Allied under a DSS-led corrective action plan to ensure call center wait times meet contractual standards and that the maximum number of timesheets is paid each period, Dearborn said.

Tiana Schonagel, a caregiver who is eight months pregnant, said she almost got her new car repossessed this week because Allied refused to verify that she was paid every week.

“The dealership was supposed to tow my car on Monday, but I finally got it checked out yesterday,” Schonagel said. “I could have lost everything, including the car deposit.”

Schonagel said she has been trying since June 26 to get Allied to check her pay schedule. The company has repeatedly denied receiving its request for verification even as it sent blank documents to the dealership, she said.

“They said they didn’t understand and that’s not true,” said Schonagel. It wasn’t until DSS stepped in that she was able to get the documents signed correctly and keep the car, she said.

Its story is not unique, Murch said. “The problems tend to fall into two categories,” Murch said. “Either Allied says they haven’t received any time cards or documentation by fax or email or that there is a minor issue with a timesheet that will delay payment – in some cases for periods of time. weeks. “

Anthony Pina-Ligon was not paid for three months of working with his client, Lynne Zimmer, although he repeatedly submitted the appropriate documents, including his banking information, he said.

“It was a nightmare,” Pina-Ligon said. Allied did not recognize his job until October, when the company issued an “emergency hire” after a social worker intervened.

“I had worked for Allied before so I didn’t think there would be a problem,” said Pina-Ligon. But he repeatedly filed work requests, banking information and timesheets for three months and the company kept telling him that they had not received the documents, he said. declared.

He eventually started getting paid – by paper check instead of direct deposit – in October, but he still hasn’t received three months’ pay for the hours he worked from August to October.

“I’ve sent it so many times I’m afraid someone will hack my bank account,” he said.

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