Minimum wage and overtime protections will now apply to the two million home healthcare workers in the United States. The Obama administration announced the ruling today, but the regulations will not take effect until January 1, 2015. The new rule protects home care workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Currently, home healthcare workers are excluded from wage and hour laws in about twenty states.
Advocates for low-wage workers have asserted that home health care employees were wrongly classified into the same “companionship services” category as baby sitters. Baby sitters are (and will remain) exempt from minimum wage and overtime protection.
Industry experts note that most home care employees earn at least minimum wage (most earn $8.50 to $12 per hour), but many don’t receive time-and-a-half pay for working more than 40 hours per week. Those supporting the new regulations hope it will bring about more stability within the home care staffing industry.
Here are a few details of the new regulations for home health care workers:
- Home health aides hired through home care companies, home care staffing agencies or other third-party firms cannot be exempt from minimum wage and overtime coverage.
- Exemptions for home health aides exist if they mostly provide “companionship services.” This is defined as fellowship and protection for an elderly person or person who requires assistance – and is limited to the individual, family or household using their services.
- Companionship does not apply if any medically related services are provided. These include services that are usually performed by trained professionals, such as nurses or certified nursing assistants.
- If care exceeds twenty hours per week, then home health aides are to receive minimum wage and overtime protection.
- Home health care is defined as “assisting with the activities of daily living, like dressing, grooming, feeding or bathing, and assisting with instrumental activities of daily living, like meal preparation, driving, light housework, managing finances and assisting with the physical taking of medications.”
- Live-in home health aides employed by an individual family or household are exempt from overtime pay, but federal minimum wage will apply for hours worked.
Home health care is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States. According to the federal government, there are 40 million Americans over 65 and about six million of them rely on some form of daily assistance. By 2030, officials believe that roughly 12 million Americans will rely on home health care employees.