In an attempt to right what he perceives to be a wrong-headed Supreme Court decision, President Obama is asking the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to change Fair Labor Standard Act () regulations covering home health care workers.
Those workers have been exempt from the law since 1974 when the DOL lumped the workers into a “companion” category along with baby sitters and nannies. As a result, they have not been entitled to overtime pay for working more than 40 hours in a week. They’re are not even guaranteed minimum wage.
Twenty-two states do not cover home health care workers under their minimum wage laws. In Ohio, they receive at least the minimum wage, but aren’t entitled to overtime.
According to the federal government, 6 million of the 40 million Americans older than 65 now need some form of daily assistance to live outside a nursing home. That number, government officials say, is expected to hit 12 million by 2030.
Labor unions and advocates for low-wage workers have sought protections for home health care workers ever since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that New York home health care worker Evelyn Coke was not entitled to overtime.
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