Vice President Joe Biden reaffirmed the Obama Administration’s commitment to extending federal minimum-wage and overtime protections to home care workers.
This is important because home care workers are in high demand but are typically paid very little and can work long hours. As it stands, health aides and and home care workers who work in private homes may be exempt from the overtime and minimum wage requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act(FLSA). This is because the FLSA contains a companionship exemption which states in part that an “employee employed in domestic service employment to provide companionship services for individuals who (because of age or infirmity) are unable to care for themselves” are exempt from the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the FLSA (29 USC § 213(a)(15)). This exemption does not apply to services provided by trained professionals such as Registered Nurses or Licensed Practical Nurses.
The Department of Labor is expected to finalize a a rule in July that would extend minimum pay standards and the overtime requirements to home care workers. Hopefully the DOL will propose a strong rule that provides protections to a broad swath of home care workers and health aides, and the Obama Administration will support the DOL in the face of the inevitable business and GOP attacks.
There are thousands of home care workers and health aides in Georgia and around the country who deserve the same overtime and minimum wage protections that most of us take for granted.