Government and industry officials discuss revising FLSA to protect home care workers

Alan Wu

July 26, 2011

The U.S. Labor Department recently announced that it would be reevaluating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) with home care workers in mind. Congress revised the act in 1974 to include domestic employees, but "companionship services" were left out of the equation, according to The New York Times.

"The idea was to carve out the teenager down the street – companions were more like elder-sitters," National Employment Law Project's legal co-director Catherine Ruckelshaus told the news source. "To exclude this huge set of 1.8 million home care workers, who are trained professionals – it's an enormous unintended consequence."

The Law Office of Fisher and Phillips recently wrote to U.S. Secretary of labor Hilda Solis, suggesting that the companionship exemption be removed from the legislation to protect the rights of home healthcare employees. They call for the revision to require a higher minimum wage and overtime protection for workers in this industry.

Some industry leaders do not want anything to change for fear that rising employment costs could cause the price of home healthcare to increase, according to the news source. If this is the case, older adults can consider personal emergency response systems, which could allow them to remain on their own more oftenwith an additional feeling of security, so they can save money on home healthcare.