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Home care workers will receive overtime pay under proposed new rule

12.30.11

JANUARY 2011, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Home care workers will receive overtime pay under proposed new rule

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, December 22nd- The Obama administration has proposed new rules that would extend wage protections for home healthcare workers.

On December 15th, President Obama and the United States Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, announced the rule change that would extend minimum wage and overtime protections to the workers under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, that assures most workers in the nation receive overtime after 40 hours and are paid at least the federal minimum wage.

“Extending minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers has been the Direct Care Alliance’s (DCA) flagship issue since the Supreme Court rules against Evelyn Coke,” stated Leonila Vega, executive director of the Direct Care Alliance.

The DCA is a national advocacy group which lobbies for direct care workers in long-term care. Home care workers are currently excluded from minimum wage and overtime protections because they are considered mere “companions.” The workers provide health and personal care services to the elderly and people with disabilities.

Evelyn Coke was a home care worker who challenged the companionship exemption in court. Her case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, which ruled in 2007, that the Department of Labor was acting within its authority in upholding the exemption.

President Obama stated in a press released obtained by the newspaper that the workers employed within the home care industry shouldn’t have to wait any longer to be properly compensated.

“The nearly 2 million in-home care workers across the country should not have to wait a moment longer for a fair wage. They work hard and play by the rules and they should see that work and responsibility rewarded,” said President Obama.

The rule was announced at an event at the White House with advocates from across the country attending.

The proposed rule will soon be open for a public comment period, after which the Department of Labor will decide whether or not to issue a final rule. It’s likely Republicans in Washington will oppose the rule change.

“I am so grateful to Secretary Solis and her staff for their support on this issue. I earn less than $8 an hour, so without overtime pay I usually have to work at least 50 or 60 hours a week. If I got time and a half for overtime, I could work less and make a better life for myself and my family,” stated DCA member Elizabeth Castillo.

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