The U.S Department of Labor is debating whether home care workers should be exempted from minimum wage and overtime benefits. Until now, Congress has kept home care workers from receiving minimum wage and overtime pay. Home care workers log long hours as they care for the elderly or the disabled. Despite the important nature of their work home care workers are being legally categorized as a type of babysitter.
Home care workers are beyond babysitters, they provide specialized support and medical care for people who are unable to care for themselves. Home care workers are also very dependable for people who may have busy family members who aren’t available at important times during the day. If the decision is made to rule out minimum wage and overtime pay for home care workers, home care will be a much less attractive field in an area that is already struggling to attract and retain workers, leaving the elderly or the disabled to be forced into institutions.
Just as the home care businesses thought that they were thriving, the federal court is attacking once again. Journalists Roginson and Sieve stated on that the court abandoned the DOL’s rule on overtime pay and minimum wage for home care employees “The court’s December 22, 2014 ruling in Home Care Association of America V. Weil (no. 14-cv- 967) vacates the new regulation and means that the Amendment will not take effect on January 1, 2015, unless it is stayed or otherwise reversed by an appellate court.” For the meantime, the court’s ruling is on hold.
Since then, The Department of Labor appealed the court’s ruling. The Department of Labor is working to secure both the employees and home care businesses. The Department of Labor is quoted saying that it “…issued the Home Care Final Rule to extend minimum wage and overtime protections to almost 2 million home care workers.” Until now, home care workers have been excluded from overtime and minimum wage benefits because their work is not recognized as a significant industry. The ongoing debate that will determine the future of home care pay relies on where the their role and the nature of their work will ultimately be placed at the U.S labor level.
The elderly and the disabled truly rely on home care workers. They rely on home care workers to assist them with necessary activities of daily living (ADLs) including walking, feeding, medicating, toileting etc in addition to providing meaningful emotional support and other assistance. Home care workers are also key players in preventing accidents, as they maintain a clean and safe environment in living spaces. They play an important role keeping families updated of their love one’s health conditions. In addition to these duties, home care worker often schedule regular medical appointments and assist with other common day tasks around the house. In addition, there are moments when the elderly or the disabled simply need someone to talk to. It is common that the elderly and the disabled face burdens and suffer from depression or loneliness.
President Obama demands that home care workers earn a raise, however, the court ruling is hindering any changes. Visit Fortune.com’s home care wage coverage for more details. The home health aid industry is growing rapidly to respond to increasing health needs. It would appear detrimental to the industry, the economy and care recipients should the legislation not be passed to increase their wage benefits.
Home health workers are critical players on the frontlines of caring for an aging population and for providing people with disabilities with a life of dignity and meaning. In order for these wage changes to take place, legislators and judges will need to continue to stand up and continue to protect the legislation they’ve endorsed.