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Wage & Overtime Law to Include Home Care Workers


Kalia Abiade • Sep 18, 2013

On Tuesday, the Federal Department of Labor announced a rule change that will finally extend minimum wage and overtime protections to most home care workers. 

Women and people of color make up a disproportionate segment of the workforce. More than 90 percent of home care workers are women and more than half are people of color. Among the workers, immigrant workers make up about a quarter of the home care workforce.

For years, a loophole in labor protection laws have kept home care workers from receiving basic rights afforded to most U.S. workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Even with these basic protections, home care workers are among the lowest paid. Full-time home health aides earn only $9.70 per hour, or $20,000, on average, with white domestic workers making more than all domestic workers of color and U.S.-born and U.S.-citizen domestic workers making more than their undocumented counterparts.

Advocates have spent decades calling for protection for home care workers under the FLSA. The change actually fulfills one of the original demands of the 1963 March on Washington.

Though this measure is a major step toward addressing a long history of devaluing home care workers, it still leaves many unprotected. Many immigrant home care workers, especially those who are undocumented, face not only unregulated wages and working conditions, but other daily challenges and vulnerabilities that come with not having legal status.

The federal rule-change, which won’t take effect until 2015, comes on the heels of the California Assembly’s passage earlier this month of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. If the landmark bill is signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, the state would become the first in the nation to mandate time-and-a-half pay for home workers who work more than 9 hours a day or 45 hours a week.

 

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