PHI Vice President Robert Espinoza's Statement on U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts' Decision on the U.S. Department of Labor's Home Care Final Rule
"U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts' October 6 decision to deny the home care industry's request to stay the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia's decision that upheld the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Home Care Final Rule is a victory for home care workers — and all who rely on home care services — across the nation.
"Effective on October 13, two million home care workers will at last be guaranteed the same federal labor protections enjoyed by most workers in the nation under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
"Under the DOL Home Care Final Rule, which substantially narrows the definition of 'companionship services,' the vast majority of home care workers will qualify for minimum wage and overtime protections as well as wage protections for on-the-job travel. Third-party employers can no longer claim the companionship exemption.
"Ensuring federal labor protections for home care aides is a critical step toward building the workforce our nation needs. Wage guarantees will help to better meet the increasing demand for the essential services and supports that these workers provide to make it possible for elders and people with disabilities to live in their homes and communities.
"We will need another 1 million home care workers — home health aides and personal care aides — between 2012 and 2022, and millions more over the next decades. Despite the growth of the industry, the wages of home care aides have declined over the last decade to an average of $9.78 per hour. Federal wage and hour protections will help to provide a more solid wage floor upon which to improve the quality of jobs for home care aides and quality of care for older people and people living with disabilities.
"DOL will begin enforcing the Home Care Final Rule on November 12, 30 days after the new rule becomes effective.
"Home care agencies and state Medicaid programs should be preparing — if they have not done so already — to implement the new rule as required by law.
"Extending federal wage protections to home care workers is a win for all stakeholders: hard-working home care aides earning poverty-level wages; consumers and their families counting on quality home care; and employers plagued by turnover rates as high as 60 percent annually."
In Home Care Association of America v. Weil, several home care trade associations and the International Franchise Association challenged the authority of DOL to redefine the Fair Labor Standards Act's companionship exemption. In late December 2014 and early January 2015, in two rulings, Federal District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled in favor of the industry and vacated the DOL's Home Care Final rule, which extended federal labor protections to the vast majority of home care workers.
On August 21, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled unanimously that DOL acted within its authority when it extended minimum-wage and overtime protections to home care workers. On September 24, the home care industry trade associations petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the federal appeals court decision.
In 1974, when FLSA was extended to most domestic workers, home care aides were excluded under the companionship exemption, which applied to both teenage babysitters and "companions to the elderly and infirm."
For more information on the DOL Home Care Final Rule, including state-by-state data on home care workers' wages as well as facts on the companionship exemption and what it means for employers and state Medicaid programs (pdf), visit the PHI Campaign for Fair Pay.
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PHI (Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute) works to transform eldercare and disability services. We foster dignity, respect, and independence — for all who receive care, and all who provide it. The nation's leading authority on the direct-care workforce, PHI promotes quality direct-care jobs as the foundation for quality care (www.PHInational.org).
Deane Beebe, PHI Media Relations Director; 718-928-2033 (office); 646-285-1039 (cell)