A federal appeals court decision on Friday could mean big things for caretakers, workers’ rights groups, and labor unions across the country.
The appeals court ruled on Friday to reinstate Obama administration regulations that ensure overtime and minimum wage protections for home care workers who aid the elderly and disabled persons in the United States. These changes were originally instated in 2013 by the Department of Labor, when the department announced that it would expand the Fair Labor Standards Act to cover domestic home care aides and workers. Earlier this year a federal judge overturned this expansion, but the US Court of Appeals for the Washington, DC Circuit upheld that the Labor Department does have the ability to make these expansions to the law.
This workforce is overwhelmingly made up of women workers; the CDC reports that 90 percent of home care workers are female, and half are women of color. Furthermore, aides and home care workers make an average of $9.61 per hour, and one fifth of aides had no health insurance.
Twenty-one states and Washington, DC offer overtime protections or mandate state minimum wage protections for homecare workers. A handful of those states filed legal papers supporting the US Appeals Court decision last week.
This industry is rapidly growing. Almost 2.5 million people work as homecare workers, and that number largely represents those who work through a contracting agency. It is estimated that millions more work unofficially in this business, receiving pay under the table. Experts estimate that the number of jobs as personal care aides and home care aides will grow by up to fifty percent by 2020. This number partly represents the United States’ shifting trend from getting elderly care through nursing homes to getting at-home care.
Media Resources: ABC 8/21/15; Think Progress 9/17/13; 2/17/15; CDC Data 2007; BLS.gov 2012-22;