Wage protections for nearly two million home care workers
The Obama administration recently announced that home care aides would be covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act, thus extending minimum wage and overtime protections to the nation’s nearly two million home care workers who care for the elderly and disabled.
According to industry experts most of these aides are already paid at least the minimum wage, but many do not receive a time-and-a-half overtime premium when they work more than 40 hours a week. Currently, about 20 states exclude home care workers from their wage and hour laws.
Some industry officials are claiming the changes would cause increases in Medicaid and Medicare spending, and raise costs for families that use these services, thus resulting in fewer jobs for home care workers.
Andrea L. Devoti, chairman of the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, said the higher costs resulting from the new rule would lead many people to hire home care aides part time rather than full time. “Caregivers will in the end receive less pay,” she said.
15 states now provide overtime and minimum wage protection
Ms. Fortman of the administration’s wage and hour division said 15 states now provided overtime and minimum wage protection to home care aides. “We have not seen any evidence that it has resulted in job loss or any serious negative impact for the workers or for the people using the services,” she said.
Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez said in a statement, “Today we are taking an important step toward guaranteeing that these professionals receive the wage protections they deserve while protecting the right of individuals to live at home.”
The administration announced the change 21 months after first proposing the rule and after having received 26,000 public comments. Many labor advocates criticized the administration for the time it took to issue its final rule. Labor Department officials responded that reviewing the comments and holding related public meetings took time.
Even though regulations usually take effect 60 days after being issued, the administration said the new regulation would not take effect until Jan. 1, 2015, in order to give families that use these attendants, as well as state Medicaid programs, preparation time.
Peter K. Levine
A Professional Law Corporation