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Media Spotlights Companionship Exemption

August 9, 2012

A recent article, op-ed, and blog post explain why home care workers deserve federal labor protections.

Workers Still Waiting, McClatchy Newspapers Reports

A McClatchy Newspapers article by Tony Pugh explains that a decent wage hangs in the balance for home care workers who are still waiting for the Obama Administration to release its final rule on the companionship exemption.

In “Home Health Workers Sweat Obama Rule on Pay” published on August 7, Pugh writes that home care workers — the fastest-growing workforce in the nation (pdf) — have been excluded from federal minimum wage and overtime protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act for nearly 40 years.

He reports that advocates are concerned that the final rule currently under consideration has yet to go through the regulatory process. Further delay could result in a “déjà vu” experience: the Clinton Administration’s efforts to extend home care workers basic federal labor protections were undone when the Bush Administration took office.

“I think there’s a high probability that that could happen,” Catherine Ruckelshaus, legal co-director at the National Employment Law Project told Pugh. “We are very concerned about the delays, especially given the history with these regulations.”

“The Labor Department says the proposal is still on the regulatory agenda but provided no time frame for completion,” states the article.

Several workers whose employment situation illustrates the low wages, lack of overtime pay, and part-time nature of home care jobs are featured in the article.

Refuting the home care industry’s claims that agencies cannot afford to pay home care workers a fair wage despite billions in revenues (pdf), Joan Leah, president of the Florida Professional Association of Care Givers, says, “They already charge high rates to the clients that we serve. And the clients know that what they’re being charged is very different from what the people that take care of them are being paid.”

More Coverage

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To sign the petition to tell the U.S. Department of Labor and White House to finalize the rule on the companionship exemption, visit the PHI Campaign for Fair Pay.

— by Deane Beebe

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