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Chief DOL Economist Backs Fair Pay for Home Care Workers

June 28, 2012

Adriana Kugler

Home care workers make up a critical segment of the U.S. workforce and should be afforded basic wage protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), argues Adriana Kugler, a chief economist at the Department of Labor (DOL).

Kugler — writing on June 28 in the DOL’s official blog, Work in Progress — says that extending minimum-wage and overtime protections to home care workers “has the potential to create good jobs for more workers by professionalizing this workforce.”

She continues:

The result is better care for our parents and grandparents in the future and fewer in-home care workers requiring taxpayer-funded public assistance to provide for their own families… This is an industry that is plagued with high turnover, which by definition leads to a diminished quality of care. And it’s no secret why — most workers with abysmal levels of pay coupled with long hours only stay long enough to find something better.

Kugler also cites PHI research (pdf) to demonstrate that home care employers can control the added costs associated with time-and-a-half overtime pay by better managing employees’ hours.

Ending FLSA’s “companionship exemption” would also have minimal impact on Medicaid, Kugler writes. Estimated costs associated with the change represent “less than one percent of Medicaid’s home health budget.”

For more information — including a link to sign an online petition calling on the Obama administration to issue a final rule ending the companionship exemption – visit the PHI Campaign for Fair Pay homepage.

– by Matthew Ozga

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