The National Employment Law Project (NELP) recently published Upholding Labor Standards in Home Care: How to Build Employer Accountability Into America’s Fastest-Growing Jobs. "To ensure that workers can take advantage of the new benefits, stronger oversight of the industry is needed", according to Sarah Leberstein, one of the report’s authors. Federal and state governments do not require home care agencies to report data on workers’ wages and hours, according to NELP.
For example, Leberstein said a worker may not benefit from the federal minimum wage and overtime laws if her boss calls her an independent contractor, a classification traditionally not covered by employment laws, and if no enforcement agency questions the designation. The national average wage for a home care worker is about $10 an hour, with close to 50 percent of workers relying on public assistance, according to the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute.
The authors’ recommendations include paying workers $15 per hour and ending government contracts with agencies that have a record of labor violations. The U.S. Department of Labor is expected to begin enforcement of wage increase and overtime protections in 2016.
Questions: Do you see home care workers represented in your ABE/GED programs? How might adult education programs work with home care workers to ensure that they understand these employee protections, and are prepared to advocate for their rights under this new legislation? As adult educators, how can we use these resources as teaching tools for learners working in this field?
Career Pathways Moderator
Thanks for posting this important information, Mike. Yes, we are seeing a lot of adult learners getting jobs as home care workers. It can be a good "gateway job" for those who want careers in health care. It's good to be familiar with the protections for individuals working in home care and to share this information with advocates as well as those who work and are seeking work in this field. Knowing one's rights as well as how to advocate are critical.
Cheers, Susan Finn Miller
Moderator, AELL CoP