Home Care Aides, Nannies, Get Wage and Hour Boosts

Efforts at both the state and federal level have boosted the level of workplace protection for home health aides, nannies and other domestic workers.elderly

Our Costa Mesa wage and hour attorneys understand that two separate measures will extend minimum wage and overtime protection to these workers, many of whom historically had been treated under the law as little more than “babysitters.”

Advocates for low-wage workers say such measures will go far in ensuring that these workers – primarily female minorities – will be treated equally under the law.

The first of these measures was announced recently by the Obama administration, and focuses on home care workers. These are individuals who offer care and assistance to those who are either elderly or disabled. Previously, the law had erroneously lumped these workers into the same “companionship services” category as babysitters, who are exempt from minimum wage and overtime requirements.

Per the new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2015, home care aides are going to be considered covered under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. This is the primary federal wage and hour law.

While most regulations like this take effect within two months of being issued, this one is being delayed more than a year. The administration said this should allow families and state Medicaid programs some time to prepare and adjust.

For the most part, industry insiders say that home care workers do already receive minimum wage. However, the overwhelming majority don’t get time-and-a-half if they log more than 40 hours weekly, as does the rest of the country, save for certain salaried workers.

The hope is that in addition to boosting worker protection, the measure may serve to stabilize the industry, which is notorious for its quick turnover rate, according to the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division. The same agency states that 9 out of 10 of these workers are female and about 42 percent are either black or Hispanic. They may receive slightly more than minimum wage ($8.50 to $12 hourly, versus the federal minimum of $7.25), but the Obama administration reports that 4 out of 10 receive government aid in the form of either food stamps or Medicaid.

These rules apply only to those workers who are placed in home care situations by an outside agency.

Meanwhile in California, Gov. Jerry Brown has signed several new laws pertaining to those who work in the home care industry. First, there was the Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act of 2013. The law requires that agencies conduct background checks on workers, offer at least five hours of training and comply with a basic set of standards.

At the same time, Brown also green-lighted a measure that offers overtime to nannies and personal attendants who work more than 40 hours weekly. State law had already mandated overtime pay to certain domestic workers, but not those who spent more than 80 percent of their day caring for others. They were exempted.

Now, starting Jan. 1, 2014, they too will be entitled to overtime pay. Unlike the federal guidelines, it won’t matter if the worker is employed by an outside agency or not.

However, the law will “sunset,” or expire at the end of 2017 if the state legislature fails to extend it at that time.

Costa Mesa employment lawsuits can be filed with the help of the Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.

Additional Resources:

U.S. to Include Home Care Aides in Wage and Overtime Law, Sept. 17, 2013, By Steven Greenhouse, The New York Times

Nannies to get overtime under new California law, Sept. 26, 2013, By Sharon Bernstein, Reuters

More Blog Entries:

California Wage and Hour Lawsuits May be Prompted by New Wage and Hour Law, Oct. 12, 2013, Orange County Wage and Hour Lawyer Blog