Ruling Limits Fair Standards for Home Care Providers

by Olivia Sandbothe  |  December 24, 2014

Ruling Limits Fair Standards for Home Care Providers

In a setback for that nation’s fastest-growing profession, a federal judge has ruled that certain home care providers are not entitled to overtime pay. The last-minute decision reverses an effort by the U.S. Department of Labor that would have boosted providers’ pay starting January 1.

Affected homecare providers are those who work for a corporate home care agency and live in the home where they provide care – but only if they spend less than 20 percent of their time assisting with activities of daily and instrumental living.

Helping seniors and people with disabilities live independently in their own homes is a round-the-clock job, but most providers are still making less than a living wage.

The Fair Labor Standards Act guaranteed a minimum wage and overtime pay for most workers all the way back in 1938, but the law excluded domestic workers, including home care providers. Nearly 40 years later, in 1974, the law was amended to cover some types of domestic workers—but not home care providers. Now another 40 years have passed and almost 2 million workers are still waiting for the basic right to be paid for their long hours of work.

The Department of Labor this year announced that it would bring providers in line with other professions by guaranteeing time-and-a-half pay for extra time worked. But some corporate home care agencies, which rely on their workers’ low wages to boost profits, opposed the move in court.

The Department of Labor is considering its next legal move to reinstate this portion of the rule, including an appeal, but more legal battles are expected to be brought by the corporate home care industry.

AFSCME, which represents more than 100,000 home care providers, will continue to fight for fair wages for all workers.

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