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U.S. Department of Labor's Proposal to End the Exclusion of 2 Million Home Care Workers from Minimum Wage and Overtime Protections

December 16, 2011

TO LISTEN: Go to www.spiderphone.com/RealCast/3964076723/Flashcast.html. You can also listen to the conference over the phone by calling 1-212-812-2800, pressing #1, then entering the recording code: 39640 76723.

For Immediate Release
December 16, 2011

Experts Discuss Obama Proposal to Extend Minimum Wage and Overtime to Home Care Workers

Yesterday President Obama announced that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed a revised rule to end the exclusion of 2.3 million home care workers from the federal minimum wage and overtime protections afforded to most workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Antiquated regulations implementing the "companionship exemption" have been in effect since 1975, when direct-care workers were considered the equivalent of casual babysitters. Today home care is a $70 billion industry, and direct-care workers are among the largest and fastest-growing occupations in the nation. The DOL proposed rule is subject to a 60-day public comment period.

Narrowing the companionship exemption shows a commitment on the part of the White House to workplace fairness. Home care workers are among the nation's lowest-paid workers. Affording basic labor protections is a small step toward improving the lives of these workers — and the elders and people with disabilities whom they support.

WHAT: A press briefing via conference call sponsored by the Caring Across Generations Campaign and PHI will provide the history of the companionship exemption, background data and demographics on the home care workforce and industry, and details on how the public can participate in the 60-day comment period. Stakeholders — including a home care employer, a family caregiver, and home care aides — will share their perspectives on the impact of the proposed rule change. Reporters will have ample time for questions.

WHO: The press briefing will be moderated by Simon Greer, CEO of the Progressive Jewish Alliance and Jewish Funds for Justice, and feature:

  • Dorie Seavey, Ph.D., PHI National Policy Research Director and author of Caring in America: A Comprehensive Analysis of the Nation's Fastest-Growing Jobs: Home Health and Personal Care Aides
  • Karen Kulp, President and CEO, Philadelphia-based Home Care Associates
  • Robin Shaffert, Policy Consultant, Caring Across Generations, and Member, Hand In Hand: The Domestic Employers Association
  • Sarah Leberstein, Staff Attorney, National Law Employment Project
  • Tracy Dudzinski, Direct-Care Worker, Direct Care Alliance Board Chair
  • Personal testimony from home care workers affected by the proposed regulations

WHEN: December 19, 2011

LENGTH: Approximately 55 minutes

TO LISTEN: Go to www.spiderphone.com/RealCast/3964076723/Flashcast.html. You can also listen to the conference over the phone by calling 1-212-812-2800, pressing #1, then entering the recording code: 39640 76723.

* * *

PHI, the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (www.phinational.org), 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.

Caring Across Generations (www.caringacrossgenerations.org) is an initiative to transform long-term care in the United States for our loved ones who count on the support of caregivers to meet basic daily needs, the workers who provide the support, and the individuals and families who struggle to find and afford quality long-term care. America wants to be a nation where all workers take pride in the work they do, where hard work is valued, and where we take care of each other, across generations.

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

Robin Shaffert, Caring Across Generations
202-302-5828

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