Dec 16, 2011

Obama proposal prevents paying companions under minimum wage.

The White House Blog
By the Numbers: $21,000
Posted by Megan Slack on December 15, 2011 at 03:44 PM EST

Today President Obama announced a proposal that would ensure fair pay for the 1.79 million workers who provide critical in-home care services for the elderly and infirm. Because of the way the Fair Labor Standards Act is written, these workers are classified as “companions” and therefore exempt from minimum wage and overtime requirements, despite the fact many of them work up to 70 hours a week. The average salary for full-time, in-home care workers is just $21,000 a year.

When the exemption was established in 1974, it was meant to apply to casual babysitters and companions, not workers whose vocation was in-home care service. Now, as our population ages, the need for professional in-home care services is greater than ever. These workers should be paid fairly for their hard work and long hours and today’s proposed legislation changes would ensure that they are.

Approximately 92 percent of these workers are women, and a large number of them are their family’s breadwinners. Close to 40 percent rely on public benefits such as Medicaid and food stamps to make ends meet. Today’s proposed rule would expand minimum wage and overtime protections by ensuring that all home care workers employed by third parties, like staffing agencies, will receive protections along with workers who are privately employed.