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Finally, some good news on wage standards

The Obama administration put forth a proposed rule today that would extend minimum wage and overtime protection to home care workers (workers who provide in-home care for the disabled or elderly) who are employed by third parties such as staffing agencies. A few facts:

  • Currently, home care workers are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s wage and overtime rules.
  • There are approximately 1.8 million home care workers in the U.S., and 1.6 of these workers are employed by agencies.
  • Home care workers are part of a growing $70 billion industry that has almost doubled in size over the last 10 years.
  • 90 percent of home care workers are women and nearly 30 percent are African American.
  • Average wages of home care workers are $17,000 to $20,000 per year, low enough to put many below the poverty line.

The current exemption dates back to 1974 when home care workers were seen as more casual workers and less part of a professional industry. Although President Clinton attempted to change the exemption before he left office, President Bush (II) reversed the effort. The Obama administration’s effort is an important, and overdue, step forward.

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