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 Standards 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 not even guaranteed minimum wage.
Pennsylvania home health care workers must receive at least the minimum wage, as well as overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek. Twenty-two states do not cover home health care workers under their minimum wage laws.
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 double to 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 under current regulations.