Proposed Rule Extends Minimum Wage to Home Care Workers

Article excerpt

A proposed rule announced Dec. 15 by President Obama and U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis would extend minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Home care workers are currently excluded from minimum wage and overtime protections because they are considered "companions," a ruling that "fails to account for the health and personal care services they provide to elders and people with disabilities," according to the Direct Care Alliance.

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"Extending minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers has been the Direct Care Alliance's flagship issue since the Supreme Court ruled against Evelyn Coke," says Leonila Vega, executive director of the Direct Care Alliance (DCA). Coke was a home care worker who challenged the companionship exemption in court. Her case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 2007 that the U.S. Department of Labor was acting within its authority in upholding the exemption.

"The nearly 2 million in-home care workers across the country should not have to wait a moment longer for a fair wage. They work hard and play by the rules and they should see that work and responsibility rewarded," President Obama said in a White House press release.

The rule was announced at a Dec. 15 event at the White House, which attracted advocates for home care workers from across the country, including home care worker and DCA Board Chair Tracy Dudzinski. …