Last week, the Obama administration announced that it is extending minimum and overtime protections to American home care workers.
This is good news for the nearly 2 million home care aides currently working in the U.S., whose work caring for the daily needs of elderly and disabled people had been classified as a “companionship service,” the very same as baby sitting.
Under the new law, which will go into effect in January of 2015, all home care aides will be required to make at least minimum wage, and also make time-and-a-half pay for additional hours when working more than 40 hours per week.
Here are some more key points from the new law, as reported by the New York Times:
- Unlike baby sitters, home care aides will be covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the main wage and hour law in the country.
- The law defines care asÂ assisting with the activities of daily living such as dressing, grooming, and feeding, as well as assisting with instrumental activities of daily living–ranging from meal preparation, to driving, to managing finances and assisting with the physical taking of medications.
- The seemingly unusual delay until 2015 is to give families who employ home care aides–as well as state Medicaid programs–time to prepare.
- While most home care aides already receive at least minimum wage, many aren’t allowed time-and-a-half overtime pay for working 40-plus hours in a week. The Times also noted that upwards of 20 states currently exclude home care workers from local wage and hour laws.
- Home care workers average between $8.50 to $12 an hour, a bit more than the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
- Under the new law, home care aides hired through home care companies or third party agencies cannot be exempt from minimum and overtime wages.
There are also concerns with the new law. Some home care industry officials believe that the changes will cause increases in Medicaid and Medicare spending, in turn raising costs for families that use such services. All of this could potentially result in fewer jobs for home care workers, or less care for people in need.
Do you think the new law is good or bad? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.
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