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Victory for Home Care Workers Celebrated

October 3, 2013

Just days after U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Thomas Perez announced the finalization of the new rule that extends home care workers minimum wage and overtime protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act, dozens of home care advocates, workers, providers, and consumers convened in Washington, DC to celebrate the victory.

PHI President Jodi Sturgeon (pictured at left) spoke at the gathering along with several other partners from Caring Across Generations, a coalition that has been advocating for the rule change.

“Today, we celebrate! But our work is not done,” Sturgeon said in her remarks. “We are committed to ensuring a thoughtful implementation that minimizes disruption for workers and equally important consumers.”

[Mary Beth Maxwell]DOL Senior Advisor Mary Beth Maxwell and several other DOL staff members who worked tirelessly to revise the antiquated rule also attended the event.

Maxwell applauded everyone in attendance for their efforts to ensure that home care workers were extended the same federal wage protections that most workers in the nation enjoy. She said that she looked forward to continue working with home care stakeholders over the next 15 months to ensure a smooth implementation of the final rule, which takes effect on January 2015.

In a commentary published by the Huffington Post on October 3, Sturgeon and Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project (NELP) write, “Let’s hope that those who have opposed the new rules use the next 15 months to make appropriate adjustments — to minimize any disruption to those who rely on home care services — rather than to continue efforts to relegate America’s fastest-growing workforce to permanent second-class status.”

[Sascha Bittner of Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Association (seated)]Economist Nancy Folbre blogged in the New York Times on September 23 that “resistance to federal regulation has proved vehement,” despite the fact that 15 states already have already enacted these wage protections “with no evidence of adverse effects.”

Folbre cites PHI Policy Research Director Dorie Seavey‘s 2012 “devastating” critique (pdf) of private-duty industry associations’ survey findings that purport that a new rule would negatively impact home care consumers and workers.

The final rule on the “Application of the Fair Labor Standards Act to Domestic Service” was published in the Federal Register on October 1.

To learn more about the final rule, visit the NELP, DOL, and PHI Campaign for Fair Pay websites.

The DOL plans to hold several informational webinars to explain its decision to extend basic wage protections to home care workers.

— by Deane Beebe

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