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POLICY BRIEF: Obama Must Act on Home Care Workers’ Wages

January 3, 2013

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) has released a policy brief (pdf) that proposes key actions President Obama could take to help low-wage workers and thereby improve the economy in the first 100 days of his second term.

Among the five proposals, NELP advises Obama to extend basic wage protections to home care workers as a way to help “jump-start a living wage recovery.”

Last December, Obama announced his plan to revise the Fair Labor Standards Act‘s “companionship exemption” to include home care workers. Since 1974, home care workers have been excluded from federal minimum-wage and overtime protections.

Obama has yet to act upon that promise, however.

“Excluding 2.5 million home care workers from these basic protections undermines the value of their work, the care and services individuals receive, and the economy,” the NELP policy brief says.

“Without prompt action,” it continues, “worker shortages are likely to worsen at the same time that the demand for home care skyrockets.”

On December 28, Karen Kulp, the president of Home Care Associates, a PHI affiliate, made a similar argument for the urgency of such action in a Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed.

PHI has set up an online petition calling on the Obama administration to keep its year-old promise to the home care workforce.

Other Proposals to Help Workers

The NELP policy brief suggests several other “straightforward and concrete policy proposals” the Obama administration should enact during the first 100 days of the president’s second term:

  • Renew federal unemployment insurance
  • Invest in creating good jobs
  • Raise the federal minimum wage
  • Strengthen the enforcement of workplace and civil rights

— by Matthew Ozga

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