Statement from PHI President Steven L. Dawson on the DOL's Proposed Revisions to the Companionship Exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act
PHI Supports Revising the Companionship Exemption
On behalf of the 2.3 million home care and personal assistance workers who are excluded from the basic federal wage and overtime protections afforded to most workers in this nation — and Evelyn Coke, who was denied overtime pay and took her case all the way to the Supreme Court — PHI commends Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis for proposing revised regulations to the companionship exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act. We wish Ms. Coke had lived to see this day.
We also praise President Obama for his support of the Secretary's proposal. By announcing these revised regulations at the White House, this Administration is sending a strong signal that it recognizes that "care work" is not casual labor but instead one of the fastest-growing occupations in the nation.
Narrowing the companionship exemption is both fair and smart.
The home care industry has changed dramatically in the last three-and-a-half decades. Today home care is a multi-billion dollar industry that employs the largest and fastest-growing workforce in our economy.
The proposed revisions (pdf) are a long overdue acknowledgment that home care workers, who provide long-term care and support for our nation's elders and people living with disabilities, play a crucial role in supporting America's families and businesses, so that family caregivers can go to work with the peace of mind of knowing that their loved ones are getting the care they need in the setting of their choice — their homes.
By establishing basic labor protections for home care workers, this Administration is making clear that it values these jobs and recognizes their importance to the future of our social infrastructure, our health care system, and our economy. Narrowing the companionship exemption is a very important first step to preparing America to care.
[box type="note"]Visit PHI's Campaign for Fair Pay for comprehensive information about the companionship exemption and the home care workforce.[/box]
For more information about the home care workforce, download Caring in America — A Comprehensive Analysis of the Nation's Fastest-Growing Jobs: Home Health and Personal Care Aides, a PHI report that uses the best data and research available today to present the most complete picture of the home care workforce possible.
PHI Media Relations Director