Published on August 9, 2012 at 5:22 AM
McClatchy Newspapers: Home Health Workers Sweat Obama Rule On Pay
An uneasy sense of deja vu is building among advocates for nearly 2 million workers who help the elderly and disabled live independently in their homes. Because of a 38-year-old amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act, home health aides and personal care aides in many states can be paid less than the federal minimum wage – $7.25 an hour – and not receive overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a week. Enacted by Congress in 1974, the "companionship services exemption" was supposed to exclude baby-sitters and casual companions for the elderly from overtime and minimum wage requirements, not to waive federal pay guidelines for professional caregivers. So after years of failed efforts to change the guidelines, President Barack Obama in December announced plans to modify the exemption and extend overtime and minimum wage protections to home-care workers employed by private companies (Pugh, 8/7).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.