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Statement from PHI President Jodi M. Sturgeon on the U.S. Department of Labor's Decision to Delay Enforcement of New Rule to Extend Home Care Workers Basic Labor Protections

October 7, 2014

Bronx, NY — PHI is disappointed by the Obama Administration's decision to delay enforcement of the new Department of Labor rule extending minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers. The rule is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2015.

The decision to delay means that 2 million home care workers (pdf) — largely low-income women, and disproportionately women of color — will have to wait as long as another 12 months to receive even the most basic labor protections, guarantees that most other American workers take for granted.

Home care workers — the backbone of the nation's long-term care system — deserve better.

Home care workers earn near poverty wages, averaging $9.50 per hour; one in five home care workers live in households with incomes below the federal poverty level; and more than half rely on public assistance like Medicaid and food stamps to make ends meet. Many home care workers remain uninsured because they cannot afford employer-sponsored coverage or live in states that have refused to expand Medicaid eligibility.

It is far past time for states and providers to take the actions needed to implement these rules. States have had 15 months to prepare for the implementation (pdf) of the new Department of Labor rule, yet, thus far many have failed to budget or make appropriate adjustments to their Medicaid programs. Where states recognized the need to act — for example, in California and New York — they have found solutions. Notably, these two states are home to the country's largest Medicaid home and community-based services programs, and state officials have been able to make reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of both workers and consumers.

These and other states that have taken the necessary steps to comply with the law should proceed as planned — their workers should not have to wait any longer for fair pay. Other states must use the time afforded by the delay in enforcement to make the necessary budget commitments and program adjustments to ensure compliance by June 2015.

Home care aides have been unjustly excluded from the Fair Labor Standards Act and the protections it provides since 1974. Forty years is long enough to wait. We call on the Administration, states, and the home care industry to move quickly to implement the new rule and guarantee a fair wage for home care workers. In order to assure high-quality home care for all who need it, collectively we need to make immediate investments in the job quality of the workers who provide that care. PHI stands ready to assist with this process wherever possible to help ensure a timely and smooth transition for consumers and workers.

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PHI, the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, works to transform eldercare and disability services, fostering 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.

Deane Beebe, PHI Media Relations Director, 718-928-2033, 646-285-1039 (cell)

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