In Landmark Move, Minimum Wage and Overtime Protections Extended to Home Care Workers

by Pablo Ros  |  September 18, 2013

The Obama administration announced that it is extending minimum wage and overtime protections to home care providers, who for too long labored for lengthy days, doing work that is intensely physical and personal, without coverage by protections that benefit most other workers in the country.

AFSCME represents 125,000 home care providers.

Kady Crutchfield of Riverside, Calif., a member of United Domestic Workers/AFSCME Local 3930, said the extension of the Fair Labor Standards Act regulations to home care workers will have a positive effect in the lives of both providers and consumers.

“I personally work overtime and do not get compensated,” Crutchfield said. “I am committed to providing the best care for my client. Paying so poorly for such important work is unfair to us and the people who rely on our support and services.”

Consumers agree.

“My provider deserves overtime,” said Jimmy Mejia, of La Habra, Calif. “She works more hours than she gets paid. Overtime laws cover every kind of worker in the state. Why not my provider?”

AFSCME 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 Pres. 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 Jan. 1, 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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