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California IHSS Workers to Earn Overtime Wages Starting in February

November 11, 2015

The estimated 376,000 home care workers employed through California’s In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program will earn time-and-a-half overtime wages for the first time beginning February 1, 2016, the Sacramento Bee reported November 6.

The measure is a response to a federal rule change promulgated by the U.S. Department of Labor that extended minimum-wage and overtime protections to home care workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Earlier this year, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed the state’s 2015-16 budget, which allocated $270 million toward the payment of IHSS overtime wages, but the release of the funds was contingent upon the results of a legal battle between the Obama administration and the home care industry over the rule change.

That legal battle has since come to an end. In August, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the rule change; in October, U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts declined the home care industry’s request to stay the appeals court decision.

The rule change officially took effect on October 13, followed by a period beginning November 12 during which the DOL will exercise “prosecutorial discretion in determining whether to bring enforcement actions.” Full enforcement begins January 1, 2016.

In a statement, the California Department of Social Services said that the state is “committed to moving forward expeditiously” in ensuring that home care workers receive the overtime wages to which they are entitled, but only “in a manner that is safe for consumers, fair to providers, and minimizes disruption to the paychecks upon which so many Californians depend.”

However, Laphonza Butler, president of SEIU United Long Term Care Workers, which represents IHSS workers, said that California should move faster on ensuring overtime pay.

“We welcome the opportunity to continue working with the Department of Social Services and the consumer representatives to ensure the successful implementation of the overtime regulation, but believe that caregivers deserve overtime payment for work being performed now,” Butler said in a statement provided to the Bee.

— by Matthew Ozga

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