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PHI Board Member Testifies in Support of the New Companionship Exemption Rule

November 22, 2013

Extending basic wage protections to home care workers will ensure a strong workforce for elders and people with disabilities, Karen Kulp, president and CEO of the Philadelphia-based home care agency Home Care Associates, testified before a House subcommittee.

“To ensure quality care in home-based settings, federal policies must support the development of a stable, skilled home care workforce,” said Kulp, who also serves on the PHI board of directors.

“Implementation of minimum wage and overtime protections for home care workers is an essential step toward reaching that goal,” she continued.

Kulp was one of four witnesses called to speak on November 20 before the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections of the House Education and Workforce Committee. She was invited to testify by the minority committee members who were permitted to invite one person.

Home care workers are “vital to our communities and families, but poor wages, averaging less than $10 an hour, make recruitment and retention for these positions difficult,” Kulp said in her testimony (pdf).

“Inadequate compensation contributes to high rates of turnover, undermining quality of care and jeopardizing access to needed services in the face of growing demand,” she added.

Kulp Makes Fair-Pay Case in The Hill

Karen Kulp published an editorial further explaining her support of fair pay for home care workers in The Hill on November 21.

Kulp’s testimony also pointed out that Michigan’s home care industry has actually grown at an increased rate since 2006, the year Michigan extended minimum-wage and overtime protections to its home care workforce.

The hearing — which can be seen online — was called by the House subcommittee majority members who are dissatisfied with the Obama administration’s announced plan to extend basic wage protections to home care workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Some home care providers have opposed the change to FLSA, which is scheduled to go into effect in January 2015.

Witnesses invited to testify by the majority members contend that extending wage protections to workers could slow growth, disrupt care continuity for consumers, and lower workers’ wages.

Many of the home care industry’s claims are refuted in the newly updated PHI fact sheet Value the Care! No 4, The Revised “Companionship Exemption”: Separating the Myths from the Facts.

Supporters of fair pay for home care workers are hosting a December 3 webinar explaining why the upcoming FLSA rule change will benefit workers, consumers, and providers.

— by Matthew Ozga

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