Home-Care Workers Have Been Overlooked for Too Long

Home-care workers — the people who take care of people who can’t look after themselves — have difficult jobs, physically and emotionally. They also, historically, have a difficult time being paid for their worth.

A recent commentary, “Push Back on Home Care,” supports a new federal regulation to ensure that home-care workers receive at least minimum wage and time-and-a-half for overtime. The rule changes a “misguided” policy established in 1974 that denied home-care workers these common wage protections.

In the spring, some states lobbied the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to delay implementing the rule from January 2015 to June 2017, claiming that it was too complex. Hardly. What they meant was that it would put a strain on their Medicaid budgets, which often pay home-care bills and which have been underpaying them for a long time. But the DOL refused to accommodate the delay.

The next challenge is a lawsuit filed by three home-care agencies claiming that the DOL exceeded its authority and didn’t follow proper procedures.

As the commentary concludes, home care is one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing occupations — “into a path to poverty for the workers. It has created a work force with high turnover and dead-end prospects. It has shifted the cost of care onto the public in the form of food stamps and other public aid that many home care workers are forced to rely on.”

It needs to be fixed through fair pay and accessible care. Now.

Read the whole story in the New York Times.