The Department of Labor extended the deadline for comments on an important proposed regulation to March 12!
Recently we let you know about an opportunity to help protect nearly 1.8 million low-wage home care workers who provide assistance for frail elders and people with disabilities. We really appreciate those of you who have submitted comments supporting new regulations to provide these workers minimum wage and overtime protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and there is still time to make your voice heard. About 9 out of 10 workers in this rapidly growing industry are women, disproportionately women of color.
The Department of Labor has proposed changing the FLSA regulations to extend these basic labor protections to home care workers. This change would increase their economic security—and help close the wage gap between women and men by boosting the earnings of a poorly paid, overwhelmingly female workforce.
But most of the growing home care industry is mobilizing in opposition to the proposed regulation and is taking full advantage of the extended comment period, and we need to do the same. We have attached a template of comments to submit, which you file here: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=WHD-2011-0003-0001
We highly encourage both organizations AND interested individuals to submit comments. Please tailor the comments to your needs and weigh in on this important regulation by March 12!
Mary Ziegler, Director
Division of Regulations, Legislation, and Interpretation
Wage and Hour Division
U.S. Department of Labor, Room S-3502
200 Constitution Avenue NW.
Washington, DC 20210
RE: Proposed Rulemaking, Application of the Fair Labor Standards Act to Domestic Service Rule (RIN 1232-AA05)
Dear Ms. Ziegler,
I is pleased to submit the following comments in strong support of the rule proposed by the Department of Labor (Department) to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations to extend basic labor protections – minimum wage and overtime premium pay – to nearly 1.8 million low-wage home care workers. [Optional: Add a sentence regarding your specific interest in this issue]. This proposed rule will advance economic security and fair pay for women, especially women of color.
More than nine out of ten workers in the rapidly growing home care industry are women, disproportionately women of color. Many of these women are primary income earners for their families who struggle to survive on median annual wages of less than $21,000 for full-time work, less than the Federal Poverty Guideline for a family of four. Home care workers provide a lifeline for the elderly and people with disabilities – yet for decades, their stressful and physically demanding jobs have come without the basic protections of the federal minimum wage and overtime laws. Extending the protections of the FLSA to a field heavily dominated by women will help these women lift their families out of poverty and reduce ongoing pay disparities between women and men.
While cost considerations would not justify the continued denial of legal rights to home care workers, we note that the cost of extending FLSA protections to home care workers is manageable. Sixteen states already require both minimum wage and overtime pay for most home health workers who would otherwise be excluded under current regulations. The national cost of the proposed change is estimated to amount to less than one-tenth of one percent of the home care industry’s $84 billion in annual revenue. With thousands of third party agencies now employing roughly 70 percent of workers in the industry, the proposed rule’s extension of FLSA protections to home care workers employed by third parties is vitally important.
Moreover, providing wage and hour protections to home care workers will have benefits for the industry and consumers as well as for the workers themselves. There is a high rate of turnover in the home care field, mainly caused by low wages, insufficient hours, and lack of reimbursement for travel costs. High turnover disrupts continuity and quality of care for customers and places great financial burdens on agencies and state and federal governments. By increasing wages, encouraging more even distribution of work hours, and requiring reimbursement for travel costs, the proposed rule will reduce turnover and promote better outcomes for both home care workers and the individuals and families they serve.
We applaud the Department for proposing regulations that will finally extend basic legal protections to home care workers who for too long have been underpaid and undervalued. I greatly appreciates this opportunity to comment.