US home care workers to benefit from minimum wage and overtime protections

24 September 2013
A young care worker with an elderly patient
The US labour department has extended the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage and overtime protections to most of the nation's workers who provide essential home care assistance to elderly people and people with illnesses, injuries or disabilities.

American Federation of State, Country and Municipal Employees AFSCME has advocated for years for the changes announced by the White House. It follows decades of home care providers’ work being underestimated, undervalued and underpaid. They were often treated as babysitters making a little extra pay, when in fact most home care workers are women who rely on the income to support their families. And as our country’s population ages, their work keeping clients as independent as possible in their homes saves billions of dollars in hospital, hospice and nursing home costs.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders welcomed the announcement.“For too long, home care workers were invisible, and today they are invisible no more. These women and men who help our mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers live at home with dignity will now be given the respect afforded to most other workers.”
 
AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Laura Reyes, who worked as a home care provider most of her adult life, said President Obama and Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez “did the right thing to correct this longstanding injustice and to usher in fairness for home care providers.”
 
“The work is physically demanding and intensely personal in nature, as workers often assist in dressing and feeding their consumers and helping with intimate personal care,” she noted.
 
The new regulation will take effect on 1 January 2015. Under the new rule, home care workers hired through a company or third-party agency may not be exempt from minimum wage and overtime pay. Live-in domestic service workers employed by an individual or family are exempt from overtime pay but must be compensated for all hours worked at the federal minimum wage.

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