Home Care Workers Who Assist Elderly Get Minimum
Wage, Overtime Coverage
Millions of senior citizens who want to spend as much
of their lives as possible in their homes expected to welcome Labor
Department action making work conditions better for two million care
17, 2013 - Fulfilling a promise by President Obama to ensure that direct
care workers receive a fair day's pay for a fair day's work, the U.S.
Department of Labor announced a final rule today extending 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.
This change will result in nearly two million
direct care workers — such as home health aides, personal care aides and
certified nursing assistants — receiving the same basic protections
already provided to most U.S. workers. It will also help guarantee that
those who rely on the assistance of direct care workers have access to
consistent and high-quality care from a stable and increasingly
"Many American families rely on the vital services
provided by direct care workers," said Secretary of Labor Thomas E.
"Because of their hard work, countless Americans
are able to live independently, go to work and participate more fully in
their communities. 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."
"Direct care workers play a critical role in
ensuring access to high-quality home care that many people need in order
to remain healthy and independent in their communities, and they should
be compensated fairly for this important work," said Secretary of Health
and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.
"We will continue to engage with consumers, states,
advocates and home care providers in the implementation of this rule to
help people with disabilities, older adults and their families receive
quality, person-centered services."
Statement of Support from
National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care (Consumer
Voice) strongly commends the Department of Labor for the release
of a final rule that would extend basic labor protections to our
nation's home care workers.
Consumer Voice believes this rule, which would provide these
workers with minimum wage and overtime protections under the
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), is critical to enhancing the
quality of long-term care consumers receive in their homes.
our nation faces a growing elderly population and an increasing
population of individuals with disabilities, we also face a
greater demand for home care workers. Continuing to deny
integral rights to these workers would only serve to endanger
the future of the workforce and, in turn, consumer access to
home-based long-term services and supports.
From our interactions with consumers, it is evident that home
care workers are essential to the quality of life and quality of
care for consumers receiving services and supports in this
Extending minimum wage and overtime protections to these workers
will result in better quality care for consumers through
attracting additional workers to the job; reducing the turnover
rate in the profession; and enhancing the overall quality and
professionalism of this ever-growing yet long-neglected
Once again, Consumer Voice thanks the Department of Labor and
the Obama Administration for taking this crucial step towards
improving the quality of life for home care workers and
consumers and advancing quality care.
For more information:
The home care industry has grown dramatically over
the last several decades as more Americans choose to receive long-term
care at home instead of in nursing homes or other facilities.
Despite this growth and the fact that direct care
workers increasingly receive skills training and perform work previously
done by trained nurses, direct care workers remain among the lowest paid
in the service industry.
There are an estimated 1.9 million direct care
workers in the U.S., with nearly all currently employed by home care
agencies. Approximately 90 percent of direct care workers are women, and
nearly 50 percent are minorities.
Today's announcement extends minimum wage and
overtime protections to all direct care workers employed by home care
agencies and other third parties. Fifteen states already extend state
minimum wage and overtime protections to direct care workers, and an
additional six states and the District of Columbia mandate state minimum
"The department carefully considered the comments
received from individuals who receive home care, workers, third-party
employers and administrators of state programs that support home care,"
said Laura Fortman, the principal deputy administrator of the Wage and
Hour Division, the agency that administers and enforces the FLSA.
"In response, the final rule provides increased
flexibility, and gives programs sufficient time to make any needed
adjustments. Together these changes will allow the rule to better meet
consumers' needs while better protecting direct care workers."
The final rule also clarifies that direct care
workers who perform medically-related services for which training is
typically a prerequisite are not companionship workers and therefore are
entitled to the minimum wage and overtime.
And, in accordance with Congress' initial intent,
individual workers who are employed only by the person receiving
services or that person's family or household and engaged primarily in
fellowship and protection (providing company, visiting or engaging in
hobbies) and care incidental to such activities, will still be
considered exempt from the FLSA's minimum wage and overtime protections.
The rule will be effective Jan. 1, 2015. The
Department of Labor has created a new web portal with interactive web
tools, fact sheets and other materials to help families, other employers
and workers understand the new requirements. These, along with
information about upcoming webinars on the rule, are available at
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