NPR: Will Obama Regulations Kill Home Care Worker Jobs?


National Public Radio takes a look at whether new regulations for home care workers hurt wages in the industry and whether it will force agencies to cut jobs.

Host Michel Martin hears from a home care agency director, a client, and a labor reporter.

I’m Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, we are going to continue to mark the two year anniversary of that devastating earthquake in Haiti. We’ll talk about the role that art is playing in the country’s rebuilding efforts. That conversation is a little later in the program.

But first, this is a conversation that we think will hit home for many people who are elderly or disabled or are caring for someone who is. These days, many people, either privately or with the help of government funds, hire someone to help with tasks like bathing, dressing, eating, taking medicine – even going to appointments.

But there’s a big question about how much these workers should be paid. They are currently exempt from federal overtime and minimum wage protections, much like babysitters are, but last month, the Obama administration proposed regulations that would include home care workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which means they would have to be paid minimum wage and overtime.
Now, many supporters and home care workers say this is long overdue, but the proposal also has some families worried about being able to afford the help they need at a time when the population is aging. Families are often spread out and everybody in the household who can work outside the home is already doing so.

We wanted to talk more about all this, so we’re joined now by Sam Hananel. He covers labor for the Associated Press. He’s been reporting on the home care wage proposal.
Also with us is Linda Kunkel. She’s the director at Care Options, a private home care agency in Falls Church, Virginia.

And Nicole Lee, who hired a home care worker for her father after he was diagnosed with lung cancer. She’s also executive director of TransAfrica Forum. That’s a social justice organization for people of African descent.

Check out the full transcript here.

John Yedinak



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