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Care Still Affordable under New Companionship Regs, New PHI Fact Sheet Shows

January 12, 2012

It has been over two weeks since the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) launched the public comment period to provide people with the opportunity to express their opinion on its proposed rule to revise the “companionship exemption” in order to extend federal minimum wage and overtime protection to home care workers.

Hundreds of people have already weighed in to support — or oppose — the DOL proposal to give about 2 million home care workers the same basic federal labor protections afforded to most workers in the nation.

Some home care agency operators are strongly objecting to the prospect of having to pay home care workers a fair wage, including time and a half for overtime, as most businesses in America are required to do.

The reason? Home care operators have argued that paying fair wages to home care workers is not in the interest of home care aides or consumers.

Dispelling the Myths

Value the Care! No. 3 (pdf), a new PHI fact sheet in the series on revising the companionship exemption, explains that paying home care workers fair wages will not make care unaffordable for consumers and, in fact, could actually lower costs for some employers.

PHI President Steven Dawson addresses business owners’ concerns in a December 22 Quality Care, Quality Jobs blog post.

The fact sheet explains, for example, that:

  • 21 states already mandate that home care workers be paid minimum wage; 16 of these states also require that some groups of home care workers have overtime protections.
  • The vast majority of home care workers don’t work overtime.
  • More than half of home care workers work part-time with many workers expressing the desire to work more hours.
  • The cost of compliance would be minimal — according to the U.S. Department of Labor analysis, less than one-tenth of one percent of industry revenues.

Visit the PHI Campaign for Fair Pay website to read sample comments and submit an official comment to DOL before the comment period ends on February 27.

— by Deane Beebe

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