The U.S. Department of Labor has announced final rules extending Fair Labor Standards Act () minimum wage and overtime protections to most workers who provide home care assistance to elderly, sick and disabled people. The rules will go into effect Jan. 1, 2015.
The change will result in nearly 2 million direct care workers—such as home health aides, personal care aides and certified nursing assistants—receiving the same basic wage-and-hour protections most U.S. workers enjoy.
The home care industry has grown dramatically over the past several decades as more Americans choose to receive long-term care at home instead of in nursing homes or other facilities. Despite this growth and the fact that direct care workers increasingly receive skills training and perform work previously done by trained nurses, direct care workers remain among the lowest paid in the service industry.
There are an estimated 1.9 million direct care workers in the U.S., nearly all employed by home care agencies. Approximately 90% of direct care workers are women, and nearly 50% are minorities.
The FLSA has specifically excluded home health aides until now.
The new federal rules extend minimum wage and overtime protections to all direct care workers employed by home care agencies and other third parties. Fifteen states already extend state minimum wage and overtime protections to direct care workers; an additional six states and the District of Columbia mandate minimum wage protections.
A DOL Web portal offers interactive Web tools, fact sheets and information about upcoming webinars on the rules.