Senate Republicans are putting together a bill that would roll back minimum wage and overtime protections granted to home care workers in 2015, Bloomberg BNA reported Wednesday.
The bill would reverse an action taken by the Department of Labor under the Obama administration, which eliminated the so-called “companionship exemption” for personal care workers.
Prior to the DOL taking this action, home care companies were not required to pay minimum wage and overtime to workers providing domestic services.
Groups representing the home care industry, including the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC), unsuccessfully tried to halt the DOL in the courts. They are hopeful that a new presidential administration could mean the companionship exemption gets restored. However, in case the Labor Department does not take action, NAHC has been working with Congress on a legislative remedy, according to Bloomberg’s Ben Penn.
The office of Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KA) confirmed to Penn that a bill to restore the companionship exemption is in the works. A similar measure was drafted in 2015 but never came to a vote.
Roberts is confident that the DOL will take action on this issue, Penn reported.
NAHC believes that a regulatory approach is preferable to a legislative one, and is pushing for this to be a priority piece of business for the Labor Department. There is no set timeframe for moving forward with a bill, NAHC Vice President for Law Bill Dombi told Home Health Care News.
The Obama administration and worker rights groups argued that home care workers deserve these basic labor protections. NAHC and other industry groups have said workers are actually worse off in some cases because employers now are capping hours, and consumers take a hit as labor costs get passed along.
Written by Tim Mullaney