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Friday, October 10, 2014

Feds announce Minimum Wage and Overtime Protections will be Delayed for Home-Care Workers

as reported By STEVEN GREENHOUSE | The New York Times | OCT. 7, 2014

With numerous states pushing for a delay, the Obama administration
announced Tuesday that it would put off enforcement of its plan to extend
minimum­ wage and overtime protections to the nation’s nearly two million
home­care workers.

A year ago, the Labor Department announced that the wage protections
would take effect nationwide Jan. 1, 2015, but the department said Tuesday
that it would not enforce the rule for six months — from Jan. 1 to June 30.
For the second six months of the year, the department said, it would
“exercise its discretion” in whether to bring enforcement actions against any
employers that decline to pay minimum wage or overtime.

Under the new rule, home­care workers would have to receive the
federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour and time and a half when they work
more than 40 hours a week. Numerous states, already facing budget strains,
complained to the Obama administration about the cost.

Fifteen states have state minimum wage and overtime protections for
home­care workers; six others and the District of Columbia require that they
receive at least the minimum wage.

In announcing the rule in September 2013, Labor Secretary Thomas E.
Perez said, “Almost two million home­care workers are doing critical work,
providing services to people with disabilities and senior citizens,” yet they
are “lumped into the same category as babysitters

The new rule ends a 40­year­old exemption from federal wage laws that
treated these workers as companions, like babysitters, who did not qualify.

Home­care industry officials warned that the increased costs caused by
the new rule might make many families unable to afford home care and
might push more Americans who are disabled or older than 65 into nursing
homes, increasing costs for the government. Moreover, some states warned
of increased Medicaid costs.

Illinois told the Labor Department that for 10,000 home­care workers
in the state, the added overtime costs would exceed $32 million. California
warned that the overtime requirement would cost it more than $600 million
a year.

The Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, an advocacy group for
home­care workers, criticized the announcement.

Jodi Sturgeon, the group’s president, said, “The decision to delay means
that two million home­care workers — largely low­income women, and
disproportionately women of color — will have to wait as long as another 12
months to receive even the most basic labor protections, guarantees that
most other American workers take for granted.”

Caring Across Generations, a group that aids home­care workers and
those who need home care, applauded the administration’s move.

Ai­jen Poo, a group co­director, said, “As states prepare for
implementation to begin in 2015, we hope that they can act swiftly to ensure
that needed services are neither cut nor delayed.”


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