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REPORT: Most Home Care Workers Work Part-Time, Very Few Work Overtime

February 16, 2012

A new PHI fact sheet disproves the home care industry’s oft-repeated claim that it cannot afford to pay its workers time and a half for overtime hours without passing costs along to consumers.

Home Care Jobs: The Straight Facts on Hours Work (pdf), draws upon nationally representative surveys and statistics and finds that home care workers, on average, work between 31 and 34 hours a week.

The new fact sheet is the sixth installment in PHI’s Value the Care! series, which explains the potential impacts of the recent Department of Labor (DOL) proposal to extend minimum-wage and overtime protections to home care workers.

Home care companies say that they will have to raise service fees if the government forces them to pay workers extra for overtime. But the PHI fact sheet shows that the vast majority of home health and personal care aides (approximately 90 percent) do not even work enough hours to qualify for overtime pay.

“The claim that the added cost of paying overtime to home care workers will result in significantly increased costs to employers and/or consumers is not supported by the available statistical evidence,” the report states.

Inconsistent Hours a Bigger Issue

The PHI fact sheet also finds that nearly 60 percent of home care aides work on a part-time basis.

Increasing the workloads of part-time home care workers who want to work full-time is a “far more pressing issue” than anything the home care industry claims, the report says. It continues:

Current employment patterns for home care aides suggest that considerable capacity exists for rebalancing workloads across existing workers. Creating more balanced workloads will not only limit any increases in overtime costs for home care companies but will also minimize any recruitment costs associated with hiring new workers.

Enacting the proposed DOL rule change would spur employers to control costs by distributing hours more evenly among their workers, the report argues.

A newly published PHI report (pdf) examines three employers that have successfully used innovative methods to manage their workers’ hours — thereby controlling costs — while maintaining a high standard of care quality.

The government is accepting public comments on the DOL’s proposed rule change through February 27.

— by Matthew Ozga

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