Federal officials say they’re working to ensure that people paid to care for individuals with disabilities aren’t being taken advantage of.

The U.S. Department of Labor launched an initiative late last month to protect the wages and rights of professional caregivers. The agency said it plans to educate these workers about rules related to minimum wage and overtime pay and how to file a complaint if their rights have been violated.

In addition, federal officials said they will beef up enforcement as part of the new effort.

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In particular, the Labor Department indicated that it will target the misclassification of some professional caregivers as independent contractors, which the agency called “an increasingly common violation.” This practice can prevent workers from receiving certain protections and earning what they should, officials said.

“Professional caregivers have always been and continue to be some of our nation’s most essential workers. We look to them to care for us and our families and they deserve our appreciation, respect and protection,” said Jessica Looman, acting wage and hour administrator at the Labor Department. “The education, outreach and enforcement initiative we are announcing … will help ensure the rights of all workers are protected and employers who flout the law are held accountable.”

The Labor Department said it will work with state and local officials to inform employers of their responsibilities and to let workers know about their rights.

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