Capitol Alert: Better pay for home care workers under U.S. labor rule, CA bill

mgutierrez@sacbee.comSeptember 17, 2013 

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez in a 2013 file photo.

MOLLY RILEY — Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Labor announced Tuesday that federal minimum wage and overtime requirements will be extended to home health aides, certified nursing assistants and other workers who provide home care to the elderly, injured and disabled.

California currently requires employers, including individuals and families who privately pay for the services, to pay minimum wage, but not overtime. The federal rule change would require overtime at time and a half for those workers who log more than 40 hours a week beginning in 2015.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said Tuesday's announcement will ensure home care workers are paid a fair wage and "no longer treated like teenage baby-sitters."

Of the nearly 2 million people employed as home health care workers, approximately 90 percent are women and 40 percent rely on some type of public assistance.

"It's really a simple matter of fairness," said Henry Claypool, executive vice president of the American Association of People with Disabilities.

The federal mandate comes on the heels of a California bill calling for some domestic workers - in-home nannies and caregivers - to receive overtime pay for working more than nine hours a day or 45 hours in a week.

Assembly Bill 241 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, passed the Legislature last week and is awaiting consideration by Gov. Jerry Brown. While there is overlap between the two, Ammiano's office said they are still urging Brown to sign their bill because there are some differences in who and when a person is eligible for overtime.

If signed, Ammiano's bill would be on the books in January and provide overtime protections beyond nine hours a day, instead of the weekly threshold under the federal rule. Ammiano's bill includes in home child care workers, whereas the federal law does not.

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