Target: Office of Wage and Hour Division at the United States Department of Labor
Goal: Include home care workers under federal minimum wage and protection laws
Care aides assisting the elderly and sick are not protected by the same labor laws as most workers. Their job is categorized under an exemption clause that excludes them from the federal minimum wage and overtime protections. Professional home caregivers are skilled workers that deal with very difficult debilitating diseases affecting their patients. Their job is very demanding and requires the utmost attention on a daily basis. Their compensation must be protected to reflect these challenging realities.
Home care workers can be fully credited for providing ailing elderly with good physical health and good spirits. They are often hired long-term for several years by family members of those affected by a debilitating disease. The home aide can be responsible for a number of important daily tasks including dressing, bathing, and toileting their patients, as well as meal planning and food shopping, cooking and ensuring that the patient is physically safe. They often work to maintain the quality of life of those with Alzheimer’s or other diseases by means of entertainment, taking them outdoors, involving their patients in conversations, laughter and taking them to community centers.
Despite all these efforts and tremendous commitment to their work, home care workers are excluded from the federal minimum wage and overtime protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). These workers are instead considered to be mere baby sitters or “companions”. It is time to end the “companionship exemption” under FLSA by changing the regulation.
Dear WHD at the United States Department of Labor,
Fair Labor Standards Act excludes home care workers from minimum wage and overtime protections afforded to most workers under the law. These workers are often regarded as merely “baby sitters” or “companions”. A home care aid often has to commit to their job up to seven days a week, providing high-skilled services to ensure the overall physical, emotional and mental well-being of their patients. The families of these patients depend on the help of care aids for their convenience and the safety of their ailing family members.
I urge you to change the regulation and provide home care workers with the same labor protection laws as other professionals.
[Your Name here]
Photo credit: Chuck Olsen via Flickr