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“Change is too slow coming for the nation’s one million home care aides. In 2007, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld a 1975 federal labor regulation that defines home care aides as ‘companions.’ That definition exempts home care employers — often for-profit agencies — from having to pay the federal minimum wage or time and a half for overtime.
In explaining their decision, the justices pointed out that the law gives the Labor Department, not the court, the power to change the regulation. Yet, more than two years later, the regulation still stands.
Last month, 15 senators sent a letter to Hilda Solis, President Obama’s labor secretary, urging her to eliminate the “companion” exemption. A month earlier, 37 House members sent a similar letter. But beyond a statement from Ms. Solis expressing concern and pledging to look into the matter, there has been no progress.”
Go here, to read the entire editorial piece appearing in the July 9, 2009, New York Times.
According to a press release, Senator Tom Harkin and 14 other U.S. senators have sent a letter to the DOL urging the Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, to “use its broad authority to interpret the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to extend wage and hour laws to home health care workers.
Though most domestic workers are covered under FLSA, an exemption to that law has been interpreted by the DOL to exclude home care workers. Today marks the two-year anniversary of a Supreme Court ruling that upheld the Department’s interpretation, making clear that the Department has broad authority to interpret FLSA.
In the three decades since the exemption was created, the numbers of home care workers and their responsibilities have expanded dramatically as the population has aged and more and more people are choosing long-term care services in their homes rather than in institutions. Home care, increasingly, has become not casual work performed by a friend or family member but a full-time regular type of employment,” wrote the lawmakers. “It is critical that these professional workers, who provide essential services to our nation’s elderly and disabled, have the same right to minimum wage and overtime pay as enjoyed by other workers.”
To read the full text of the letter from the senators, go to IOWAPOLITICS.com.