OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

New Wage Laws Coming For Home Care Workers

The national fervor to increase the minimum wage is about to take over Private Duty home care.  A final rule issued by the US Department of Labor mandates that companies who provide a home care worker for “companionship and safety” are now required to pay at least minimum wage.  The rule further states that companies providing such care will also be mandated that home care worker be paid overtime when required.

The U.S. Department of Labor has taken a hands off approach when it comes to home care workers in the past.  But changes in the healthcare industry have caused them to change course according to a post on the Supreme Court of the United State Blog. 

The department reversed course on the issue after concluding that home care has changed markedly, with fewer elderly and disabled individuals going to nursing homes or other institutional providers, and opting instead to remain in their homes and get their assistance there.

It all started with Long Island Home Care v. Coke, a case heard eight years ago in front of the Supreme Court when a home care worker brought suit demanding to be paid minimum wage.  The worker lost the case based on the latest amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act that said that”domestic workers” were not entitled to minimum wage.

Now thanks to the Department of Labors change of heart and a federal court ruling that upheld the wage increase, the supreme court will decide again whether Private Duty home care workers are subject to the same rights as the rest of the workforce.

The rule to increase wages was supposed to go into effect October 13th but will likely be delayed while the Supreme Court hears the case.

If the Supreme Court finds that Home Care workers are now subject to the Fait Labor Standards Act then home health aides may find themselves in line for more increases as the fight to increase the national minimum wages reaches its conclusion.

More and more consumers are choosing at home care options over institutional care settings.  With an entire industry shifting to home based services, it is time to give home care workers that same status as we give others in the workforce.  It is a necessary step to force improvement in an industry that is now responsible to caring for the most vulnerable of our countries citizens.