In a triumphant win for labor unions and worker advocacy groups, the Obama administration made sweeping reform in mandating that home health workers, personal care aides and certified nursing assistants who provide care to the elderly be paid minimum wage and overtime. While it may affect the bottom line for families of aging relatives, over half of senior care givers were living at or below the poverty line.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, over 2 million caregivers will now receive the same basic protections- such as benefits and overtime protections- already provided to most U.S. workers. The benefits are two-fold:
- It will guarantee that consistent, high quality senior care will come from a professional, trained workforce. In a recent article on PeoplesWorld.org, Sarita Gupta of Jobs With Justice is quoted as saying that "this is a major victory for the present home health workers [and] for the millions more who will be needed in the coming years as the U.S. population ages."
- The new laws reduce employee turnover and increase the number of committed workers who enter and stay in the home care profession. Dustin Distefano, CEO of A Place at Home, an agency that provides in-home senior care, says in an article on Omaha.com “[This is] especially beneficial to those with Alzheimer's disease or dementia, who might prefer one caregiver.”
These benefits are extended to legal, documented employees, whether they are agency employees, referred by agency or registry servcies, Craigslist, newspapers or word-of-mouth through friends and family and go into effect nationwide on January 1, 2015.
President Obama spends a day as a home care worker
In a video issued by the White House, President Obama spent a day in 2007 with a home care worker as he was evaluating minimum wage and overtime legislation when he was a senator. In her piece in Forbes.com, “Hiring Help For Aging Parents? Read This First.,” Ashleah Ebeling hosts the video , which articulates support for wage protection now provided to home care workers.
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