Healthcare Industry Pushes Labor Department on Home Care Wage Rule

Marking the five-year anniversary this week of the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Long Island Home Care v. Evelyn Coke, the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute is urging the Department of Labor to make a timely decision on the federal minimum wage and overtime protection for home care workers. 

The late Coke, who worked as a home-care provider, sued her employer when she discovered that she had not received the overtime pay to which she believed she was entitled. The case went to the Supreme Court, which decided in June 2007 that because of the “companions to the elderly” exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act, Coke’s employer had cone nothing illegal. The Court ruled that the Department of Labor could reinterpret the exemption to expand wage and hour protections to home care aides. 

“On December 15, 2011, President Obama announced that the U.S. Department of Labor would finally guarantee minimum wage and overtime protections to millions of home care workers who care for Americans, young and old, who need assistance to remain independent and part of their communities,” said PHI President-Elect Jodi Sturgeon. “With a need for 3 million more workers to provide these services by 2020, we cannot rely on an undervalued, contingent workforce. …it is time for home care workers to be treated like most other American workers and provided basic labor protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act.”

The final regulation needs to be issued sooner than later for the 2.5 million home care workers in America today, PHI urged, noting the 26,000 public comments made in response to the proposed regulation, with two-thirds in favor of the proposed changes. 

Written by Elizabeth Ecker