Personal care and home health aides — which make up the home care aide profession — are projected to see a surge in demand in the coming years, with those professions topping the list of the top 10 fastest growing jobs in America. Yet, their salaries are notably low.
The median salary for a personal care aide is $19,910 annually, or $9.57 an hour; a home health aide earns $20,820 or $10.01 per hour, based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
The low pay contributes to the industry’s high employee turnover rates, and points to a “public health crisis,” says Fortune in a recent article.
In California, legislation recently passed that is expected to bring paid sick leave to about 6.5 million Californians currently without it, but home health care workers are excluded.
Because of cost concerns, California Governor Jerry Brown negotiated a last-minute amendment that exempts home health care workers from the law, Fortune says.
“Workers who care for the elderly and disabled in their homes are ‘an easy target for holding down costs,’” Abby Marquand, director of policy research at the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, a nonprofit advocacy organization, tells Fortune. “Collectively, as a society, we haven’t valued the work they do in the way we should.”
Home care workers, who are employed by third-party agencies or by clients directly, have long been exempt from minimum wage and overtime laws, Fortune says, noting that new legislation to be enacted in January will grant most home care workers wages of at least $7.25 per hour and overtime. However, in states where the minimum wage is higher and excludes in-home workers, they won’t be eligible for the higher rate.
In addition, home health workers employed by individual households aren’t eligible for workers’ compensation, family and medical leave, and can’t enroll in a 401(k).
“In the hierarchy of workers, home health care workers are at the bottom, below even low-paid fast-food workers,” Fortune says.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent landmark decision that Illinois home care workers who provide personal assistant care services are exempt from having to join and pay union dues also creates challenges for home care workers seeking higher minimum pay.
“The number of people needing care is going to double in decade, and fewer workers are going to be willing to work for nothing,” Joe Caldwell, director of long-term services and support policy for the National Council on Aging, tells Fortune.
Read the full article here.
Written by Cassandra Dowell