Even Home Healthcare Workers Deserve a Living Wage and Labor Protection

Obama Administration to go to bat for underserved, burgeoning group.

The Obama administration is reviving its push to provide labor protections to home health workers who are often excluded from traditional labor law. According to The Hill, the administration will offer a final rule governing the home health industry soon:

Enactment of the regulations, which are under final review at the White House, would represent a major victory for unions that have fought for decades to win higher pay for direct-care aides. [...]

In recent days, the White House has held multiple meetings with groups that have a stake in the proposal, according to participants and logs maintained by the Office of Management and Budget.

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Involved parties on both sides said they expect the White House to issue the rule soon.

Home health workers are not subject to minimum wage or overtime pay laws because the Fair Labor Standards Act exempts those “who provide ‘companionship services’ to people with disabilities and the elderly,” a definition that has been applied to home health workers. But as Sarah Jane Glynn noted, “Home care workers todayprovide everything from help with eating and dressing to monitoring blood pressure and vital signs,” making them far from simple companions.

The Big Business community is, predictably, opposing the new rule, and Congressional Republicans tried to block it the last time it surfaced. But with the home health industry set to explode in the coming decades, ensuring that those workers get the bare minimum when it comes to labor protections is a no-brainer.

Pat Garofalo is economic policy editor for ThinkProgress.org. His writing has also appeared in the Nation, the Atlantic, U.S. News & World Report, and other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @Pat_Garofalo.