Assertions that wage and overtime protections granted last week for home care workers are bad for business are unfortunate, writes NY Times columnist Nancy Folbre in an opinion column weighing in on the changes this week.
Citing opposition from several business associations and congressional republicans in response to the change in rules that allow home care workers overtime and minimum wage protections, Folbre says there is merit to each side of the argument.
“…there is an economic rationale behind the opposition,” Folbre writes. “The rule changes may strengthen other trends encouraging consumers to hire home-care workers directly (with help from either state agencies or private companies that screen, train or certify potential employees) rather than paying businesses that charge a high and continuing price for those services….The economic stakes are high, because the demand for home-care services is growing.”
But the economic impact to businesses has more to do with profitability than it does with cutting access to home care services, the column asserts. Because many home care workers already work less than 40 hours per week and are subject to state minimum wage laws, there are many markets already experiencing the protections and without negative effects to the cared-for population or workforce.
“Fifteen states have already adopted wage and hour protections for these workers, with no evidence of adverse effects,” writes Folbre. “Yet resistance to federal regulation has proved vehement….
“Why such pushback if the effects on wages are likely to be small? Because the new rules may directly and indirectly reduce the profitability of home-care agencies by making it more attractive for consumers to bypass their services.”
Written by Elizabeth Ecker