The Obama administration announced yesterday it will extend labor benefits and overtime pay to health care workers providing home care. This ruling affects nearly 2 million health care workers, who daily manage the needs of elderly and chronically ill people, as well as people with disabilities. One of the fastest-growing professions in the U.S., these workers have been exempt from benefits provided by the Fair Labor Standards Act since 1974.
The new regulations won't take effect until January 2015, in order to give families and states time to adjust. While advocates have been working on this initiative for some time, some lawmakers are concerned that new regulations will limit the amount of care people receive since the regulations will cap hours and some families may not be able to afford the minimum wage. But currently, health workers--the vast majority of whom are women and about half of which are people of color--make just $9.70 per hour. The new regulations are a step towards ensuring these workers are receiving a fair wage for work that is often critical for families and individuals nationwide.