The Obama administration announced it plans to extend minimum wage and overtime protection to more than 2 million workers who provide In-home care to frail and disabled people.
These people from health and personal care aides give baths, dispense medicines, cook food and run errands – increasingly complex tasks in a fast-aging society. Many work for private agencies funded through public programs like Medicaid and Medicare. Since 1974, the workers have been lumped in with baby-sitters as a class of “companions” exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act.
“As the home care business has changed over the years, the law hasn’t changed to keep up.” President Barack Obama said in a statement, “Employers are allowed to pay these workers less than minimum wage with no overtime. That’s just wrong in this country.”
Projections show the home care labor force growing to about 4.3 million by 2018, more than K-12 teachers, public safety employees, fast-food and cashier workers. The change, which does not require the consent of Congress, would take effect next year after a public comment period. Its impact will vary from state to state and from employer to employer.
Florida had about 130,000 such workers in 2010, earning an average of $9.42 an hour, according to the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, a nonprofit advocacy group. The law would apply only to employees to companies, not to private arrangements. Frank Stoker, president of Care Team Home Care of Tampa, welcomed the change. His company already pays its workers $10 to $14 an hour with overtime, he said, but many of his competitors do not. “This will take that unfair advantage out of this,” Stoker said. “I don’t care who you are, you should be paid properly.”
Source: St. Petersburg Times
December 16, 2011