The Obama administration is proposing new rules to provide first-ever minimum wage and overtime protections for in-home care workers who assist people with disabilities.

Under a federal law dating to 1974, those who provide at-home assistance are classified as “companions,” much like baby sitters, and do not have the same rights as other workers.

Now the U.S. Department of Labor is proposing a new rule to dramatically change the landscape for the nation’s 1.79 million in-home care providers.

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Under a plan announced Thursday at the White House, minimum wage and overtime laws would apply to all in-home care workers employed through staffing agencies and other third parties. In addition, protections would be extended to individuals employed by families if they are providing skilled medical care.

“These men and women, they work their tails off,” President Barack Obama said. “They deserve to be treated fairly.”

Currently, nearly 40 percent of the nation’s in-home care workers rely on government assistance like Medicaid and food stamps because of low pay in the field.

While some states already extend minimum wage or overtime protections to home care workers, 29 states do not. Federal officials say that workers across the country will benefit from having the Labor Department backing them up.

Once the rule is published in the Federal Register next week, there will be a 60-day public comment period before any changes can take effect.