Today, in a tremendous victory for home care workers, fair pay, quality care and the well-being of the nation, the Labor Department issued regulations that will extend federal minimum wage and overtime protections to nearly two million home care workers. It is a meaningful and long overdue move that will improve working conditions in an essential and growing industry.
Last summer, thousands of activists, home care workers and people they care for urged the Labor Department to take steps to close a loophole created through its interpretation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. That interpretation excluded home care workers from the law’s protections, effectively denying them fair compensation and threatening their families’ economic security.
Nearly half of home care workers – 90 percent of whom are women – rely on public assistance to make ends meet because of poverty-level wages and few benefits. By ensuring fairer pay, this rule will help to remedy this grave injustice and allow these workers to support their families while providing critical care that enables children, parents, grandparents and others in need to stay in their homes and communities, and near loved ones.
President Obama and Labor Secretary Perez did the right thing by issuing this rule. The administration has taken a concrete step to help improve lives and strengthen a critical segment of the workforce. Lawmakers at all levels should commit to doing more to support working families – the engines of our economy. Fair, living wages, paid sick days and paid family and medical leave standards are good places to start.