After 40 Years, Home Health Care Workers Finally Gain Minimum Wage and Overtime Rights

Friday, September 20, 2013
Home health care aide (AP Photo)

The U.S. Department of Labor has finally decided after 40 years that home health care workers qualify for minimum wage and overtime pay.

 

These workers, who assist seniors and disabled with everyday living, have been exempt from federal wage laws since 1974. At that time the government categorized home care aides as doing work similar to babysitting, which was Washington’s way of saying they didn’t deserve the same rights as most other types of employees.

 

But with America’s senior population rapidly growing because of aging Baby Boomers, demand for home health care has increased dramatically. The profession is now one of the fastest growing in the country, with nearly two million workers.

 

“Home care workers are no longer treated like teenage baby sitters performing casual employment under this final rule,” Labor Secretary Thomas Perez told the Associated Press. “They are treated with dignity and their hard work is indeed rewarded.”

 

Labor unions and worker advocacy groups lauded the change in law, saying nearly half of caregivers live at or below the poverty level.

 

Lobbyists for health care companies—an $84-billion industry—fought against the rules. They argued that the new overtime requirements would make it more difficult for families to afford home care for their aging relatives.

 

The new rules won’t take effect until January 2015.

-Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

Home Care Aids Will Get OT, Minimum Wage (by Sam Hananel, Associated Press)

Information on the Final Rule: Application of the Fair Labor Standards Act to Domestic Service (U.S. Department of Labor)

Government Report Blasts Lax Regulation of Medicaid Home Care Fraud (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

New In-Home Care Payment Computer System Grinds to a Halt (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

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