Minimum Wage, Overtime Rules Apply to Home Health Workers

Since 1974 Federal Law under the Fail Labor Standards Act Exempted Home Care Workers from wage and overtime requirements. However the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the Department of Labor has the right to change that exemption.

The Court found that when the exemption was first in place Home Health Care Workers were primarily hired by individual families to care for the elderly. However, the Court noted that today Home Health Care Workers are primarily employed by large staffing companies that service thousands of individuals. The trend to today is to try and keep the elderly out of nursing homes and in their own homes for as long as possible. Many of these Home Health Care Agencies are large and very profitable corporations who benefit greatly from not having to pay minimum wage or overtime.

This case has wide ranging implications because the DC Circuit is the primary circuit court for reviewing administrative rulings and the Judges who decided these rules were appointed by both the Bush and Obama Administration and the ruling was unanimous. The case could still go to the US Supreme Court; but Home Health Care Agencies will probably all change the way they pay their workers. There are hundreds of Home Health Care Workers in the El Paso, Texas and Las Cruces, New Mexico area. These employees will now have rights to overtime and minimum wage like most other workers in the United States under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

It is sad to note that Texas was among a coalition of States that actually opposed this rule change and want to keep Home Health Care Workers from obtaining overtime and minimum wage. But this is a victory for Home Health Care Workers that may win a fair wage despite the fact that their own state wants to keep them in poverty.

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