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Friday, September 20, 2013

Labor Dept. Mandates Minimum Wage, Overtime Pay For Home Health Workers

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The U. S. Department of Labor issued new rules Tuesday that mandate home health care agencies pay their workers the minimum wage and receive overtime pay starting in 2015.

"Almost 2 million home care workers are doing critical work, providing services to people with disabilities and senior citizens who want to live in community settings and age in place in their familiar surroundings," said Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez. 

But when it comes to getting paid, they are "lumped into the same category as teenage babysitters," he said. "This is wrong and this is unfair." 

For nearly 40 years, home care workers had been exempted from the pay rules because their services were considered "companionship." But advocates, including organized labor organizations, had argued that these workers were often doing much more, providing assistance with dressing, eating and other daily activities. The decision extends the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage requirements, currently at least $7.25 an hour, to direct care workers, including home health aides, personal care aides and certified nursing assistants, according to a Labor Department statement

"This is a tremendous victory for home care aides, a workforce earning near-poverty wages while providing vital personal care and health-related services to America’s elders and people living with disabilities," said Jodi M. Sturgeon, president of Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI National), an advocacy...

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