Contact Us

Plan Would Lift Wages Of Home Care Workers

Getty Images

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is seeking to extend minimum wage and overtime protections to cover home health care workers, a move that would boost living standards for nearly 2 million domestic employees but could mean higher costs for the elderly and disabled.

President Barack Obama and his labor secretary, Hilda Solis, planned to announce the proposal Thursday at a White House ceremony.

“The nearly 2 million in-home care workers across the country should not have to wait a moment longer for a fair wage,” Obama said in a prepared statement. “They work hard and play by the rules and they should see that work and responsibility rewarded.”

Home care aides have been exempt from federal wage laws since 1974, when they were considered companions to the elderly and compared to neighborhood baby sitters. But the number of full-time home care workers has surged along with the growing number of retirees who need help with a range of daily tasks, from taking the right medication to getting cleaned and dressed.

“These are real jobs as part of a huge and growing industry,” said Steve Edelstein, National Policy Director for the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute in New York. “They deserve same basic labor protections that other workers enjoy.”

Unions and advocacy groups say nearly half of all home care workers live at or below the poverty level and receive public benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid. Poor working conditions, low wages and high turnover make it challenging to meet the growing demand to provide care for the elderly in their homes instead of in institutions.

More than 90 percent of home care workers are women. About 30 percent are black, and 12 percent are Hispanic.

With the size of the U.S. population over 65 expected to nearly double in the next 20 years, millions more will rely on long-term health care from domestic workers.

Health services companies that employ home care workers have opposed efforts to expand hour and wage laws, arguing that it would drive up costs for elderly clients who can ill afford it.

“We are in full support of adequate and fair wages of those doing such admirable work,” said Jordan Lindsey, a spokesman for the California Association for Health Services at Home. “However, it needs to be carefully balanced with the unique needs of seniors and people with disabilities who need home care and keeping that type of care affordable.”

For a patient with dementia who needs 24-hour care, for example, a family is currently allowed to pay home aides at a flat hourly rate. If overtime rules apply, Lindsey said, it could triple the cost of care.

Once the Labor Department formally proposes the new rules, there will be a 60-day period for public comments. The rules could take effect early next year.

The Clinton administration initially tried to extend federal wage rules to home aides, but President George W. Bush stopped the effort.

More News from K2 Radio

Best of the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your points and personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account with your Facebook account, just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing profile and VIP program points. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to http://k2radio.com using your Facebook account.

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

Register on K2 Radio quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!

Not a Member? Sign Up Here.

Sign up for an account to comment, share your thoughts, and earn points to get great prizes.

Register on K2 Radio quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!