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PRESS RELEASE: Home Care Workers Deserve Minimum Wage and Overtime Protections

June 16, 2011

Direct Care Job Quality Improvement Act Calls for Fair Treatment of Vital Workforce

Washington, D.C. — With the fourth anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Long Island Care at Home v. Coke earlier this week, PHI reiterates its support for revision of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) “companionship exemption“ and commends the introduction of the Direct Care Job Quality Improvement Act. The exemption currently excludes nearly two million home care workers from basic federal minimum wage and overtime protections.

“Home and personal care workers are vital to aging, disability, and health care services,” says PHI National Policy Director, Steven Edelstein, “We appreciate the commitment of Representative Sanchez, Senator Casey and the U.S. Department of Labor to ensuring they receive fair and equal treatment under our nation’s labor laws.”

Home Care is a Large and Essential Occupation
Currently, the U.S. employs 1.7 million workers in home care jobs. That number is expected to increase by nearly 50 percent over the next decade – growing faster than almost any other occupation in the U.S.

Home Care Work is Skilled Work
Most home care workers assist elders and people with disabilities with personal care needs like dressing, bathing, eating, mobility—services which are far more crucial and require more skill than providing simple companionship.

People Want to Receive Long-Term Services and Supports at Home
The exemption of home care workers from minimum wage and overtime protections undermines federal policies aimed at expansion of home- and community-based services by keeping wages extremely low for home care workers and thereby discouraging workers from seeking employment in those jobs. Most individuals who need long-term services and supports (LTSS) prefer to receive services at home rather than in an institution.

“Expansion of federal wage and hour protection to home care workers is the right thing to do,” says Carol Regan, PHI Director of Government Affairs. “These workers provide essential services to millions of individuals and families and they deserve to be treated fairly. We applaud Representative Sanchez’s leadership on fixing this outdated policy by introducing of the Direct Care Job Quality Improvement Act. We also look forward to the release of revised FLSA regulations by the Department of Labor in the fall.”

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PHI (www.PHInational.org) is a national organization that works to improve the lives of people who need home or residential care – and of the direct-care workers who provide that care. PHIs work is grounded in the philosophy that quality jobs for direct-care workers will lead to quality care for long-term care consumers.

For more information about PHI’s campaign to change the companionship exemption, visit www.PHInational.org/fairpay.

Carol Regan, PHI Government Affairs Director
202-223-8355
cregan@phinational.org

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