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REPORT: Home Care Industry Must Take Responsibility for Workers

December 22, 2015

The home care industry must be held accountable for poor quality of home care worker jobs, a report from the National Employment Law Project argues.

“Few home care workers have a traditional employment relationship with one employer whom they can hold accountable for job standards,” write the report’s authors, Sarah Leberstein, Irene Tung, and Caitlin Connolly.

“Instead, the key industry players that call the shots on worker pay have sought to distance themselves from their workforce,” they add.

The industry has accomplished this by “outsourcing” any accountability they might have for their workers’ well-being. The report cites several ways that home care employers outsource this responsibility, including by subcontracting with other agencies, exploiting the franchise model, and misclassifying workers as independent contractors.

Additionally, the complicated, “fissured” nature of state Medicaid programs has “frustrated home care workers” efforts to hold violators accountable for wage theft and other labor abuses,” the authors write. In publicly funded programs at both the state and federal level, there is “little oversight of compliance with basic labor standards,” they add.

The authors offer several recommendations to ensure that home care employers are more accountable for their workers.

Specifically, the recommendations are designed to ensure that basic labor protections are enforced for home care workers, to boost public investment in home care jobs, and to promote workers’ ability to organize and bargain for better job conditions.

“We must act now to hold the home care industry accountable for the rights and standards of this critical workforce, so all home care workers, no matter what their employment situation, can support their families and communities and continue to provide the crucial services that growing numbers of Americans will be counting on in the years and decades to come,” the authors conclude.

— by Matthew Ozga

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