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For Immediate Release

Thursday, December 15, 2011

AFSCME’s McEntee: Overtime Pay Long Overdue for Nation’s 2.5 Million Home Care Workers

Washington, DC — 

The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO (AFSCME) applauds the proposed reforms to the U.S. Department of Labor Fair Labor Standards Act regulations, which improve working conditions for home care workers. Since 1974, home care workers have been excluded from basic federal, minimum wage and overtime protections due to overly broad regulations and a hostile Supreme Court decision that converted a narrow exemption for companionship services into a wholesale exclusion of home care workers. The rule will ensure that home care workers have the protections of basic federal minimum wage and overtime rules, and will be paid fairly for the work they perform.

“In the wake of the worst recession in our lifetime, the denial of a basic minimum wage and no overtime is a double blow to the millions of home care workers who care for the most vulnerable in our society,” stated AFSCME Pres. Gerald W. McEntee. “This workforce is too critical to the independence and dignity of individuals with disabilities and older adults. Something had to be done to stabilize the workforce and address pay standards.”

The proposed DOL rules will provide home care workers – employed by an agency or other intermediary – the federal minimum wage and overtime pay when warranted. It will also narrow the legal definition of the “companionship” exemption to only cover fellowship and protection, as it was originally intended. The proposal also limits liability of families who hire individuals from agencies that fail to comply with the pay rules.

AFSCME has joined with organizations that work on behalf of the aged and people with disabilities in urging the Department of Labor to issue new rules pertaining to the companionship exemption. “Home care workers have become a lifeline for older Americans. Often they are the breadwinners for their families,” added President McEntee. “They provide physically and emotionally demanding care to their clients and deserve the protections afforded to other workers.”