CHN: Minimum Wage and Overtime Protections Extended to Home Care Workers
On September 17, the US Department of Labor announced that it will extend minimum wage laws and overtime protection to all home care aides who care for the elderly and people with disabilities as of January 1, 2015. This measure will end a 38-year ruling that excluded home care workers from receiving these basic protections.
Direct care work is one of the fastest-growing industries in the nation, and almost two million people will benefit from this policy change. Aides help America’s elderly and disabled populations by assisting with daily tasks such as dressing or bathing, doing chores and administering medications in their homes.
Currently, home care aides are preempted from receiving the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour) and overtime protection because they are categorized as “companionship” workers – individuals who provide “companionship services for individuals who (because of age or infirmity) are unable to care for themselves” (as explained in this Huffington Post article). The need for revised regulations was underscored in 2007 when the Supreme Court ruled against Evelyn Coke, a New York home care worker who sued to reverse the federal regulations that exempt home care agencies from having to pay overtime.
Advocates and labor leaders praise this long-awaited measure as a way to ensure that home care workers are provided the same legal protections as nurses who perform similar tasks in a hospital setting.
With more minimum wage battles on the horizon, home care advocates and organizations like the Direct Care Alliance are happy to finally be able to claim victory with these regulations.