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Home Care Workers Now Entitled to Fair Pay

January 6, 2016

Starting this month, home care workers are fully protected by federal minimum-wage and overtime protections.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) began full enforcement of the federal rule change extending the basic labor protections to home care workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act on January 1.

“Though this may seem like a small victory — after all, a guarantee of $7.25 per hour isn’t much — it has big implications,” PHI President Jodi Sturgeon wrote in a January 4 blog post for

“Most importantly,” she writes, the rule change “brings dignity to millions of workers, who up until now have been treated like teenage babysitters rather than the skilled professionals they are.”

The PHI Campaign for Fair Pay home page has a full list of resources designed to help policymakers and employers adjust to the new rule.

Still Under Threat

The rule change itself was became effective in October 2015 following a protracted legal challenge instigated by trade associations representing the home care industry. The months-long legal battle culminated in an August decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upholding the rule change.

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts then declined to hear the industry’s motion to stay the lower court’s decision, thereby opening the door for full implementation of the rule change.

However, the extension of basic wage protections to the home care workforce remains under threat. In November, the home care industry filed a petition (pdf) asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the D.C. Circuit Court’s decision.

In the subsequent weeks, two prominent disability-rights groups (pdf) as well as the attorneys general of 12 states (pdf) filed separate amici curiae briefs supporting the industry’s petition.

The Obama administration has until January 25 to file a response brief.

— by Matthew Ozga

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