Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Home care workers

President Barack Obama spent time with a home care worker during his first presidential campaign.  He said that the home care worker was doing hard, heroic work.  It seems that his administration is taking a step to help compensate those who are doing this work.

The Labor Department announced that they will extend minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers, beginning January 1, 2015.  The Fair Labor Standards Act was established in the Depression era that established a minimum wage and overtime hours.  For those unfamiliar, overtime hours allow for employees to get paid time and a half for any hour over 40 that is worked.

In 1975, Congress enacted the companionship exemption, which excluded workers who "provided companionship services for individuals who unable to care for themselves."  This exemption has prevented workers who care for the elderly who can no longer take care of themselves.  The home care workers provide essential services such as bathing, dressing, or eating.

The median pay for home care workers is about $20,000 per year, despite workers often working more than 40 hours a week or staying overnight.  Or if you want to look at the hourly pay, which is what most home care workers are paid, the median pay is $9.70 per hour.  The Labor Department estimates that home care workers will grow 70% over the next several years, much higher than average.  

As a job that requires little education, work experience, or training, it is a job that many people are able to do. Because of this home care workers are often minorities or women.  Some estimates range to 90% of home care workers are either women or minorities.  Many are thrilled with the decision, excited that more laborers are being recognized by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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