Despite Setback, Feds Push Forward On Caregiver Pay Protections
The Obama administration is pressing states to be ready to provide minimum wage and overtime pay to in-home care workers assisting people with disabilities.
In a letter sent to the nation’s governors late last week, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez urged states to budget for the pay increase even though a federal judge put a stop to a new rule requiring the change earlier this year.
Under regulations issued in 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor extended minimum wage and overtime protections to the nation’s 2 million home care workers for the first time. The rule was set to take effect at the start of this year, but was struck down in January.
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Currently, the Labor Department is appealing the ruling and Perez said states should make their fiscal plans assuming the agency will win in court.
“Because successfully attending to the important principles of treating both workers and recipients of home care services with dignity requires thoughtful planning, I ask that you take steps now toward implementation to ensure that you will be prepared if the department prevails in this case,” Perez wrote.
Traditionally, home care workers have been classified under federal labor law in much the same way as baby sitters and exempt from many wage protections. Under the new rule, however, the Labor Department sought to require that these workers be paid at least the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour and qualify for time-and-a-half for working more than 40 hours per week.
Trade groups representing agencies that employ many in-home care workers challenged the regulations. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled in the groups’ favor, finding that the Labor Department overstepped its authority with the mandate.