That's right, the Minimum Wage. Congressman Terry and Senator Johanns don't believe home care workers are entitled to earn at least $7.25 an hour. That's a paltry $15,000 per year for a full time worker. And it's not just the minimum wage. Johanns and Terry don't believe home care workers deserve to be paid time-and-a-half for overtime, either. You see, the Fair Labor Standards Act(FLSA) mandates that employers pay at least the current Minimum Wage and pays time-and-a half for hours worked over forty. But the FLSA exempts home care workers. These are people who provide care and companionship for the elderly and infirm. Their duties may include: Domestic chores(cooking, cleaning, etc.), assisting with personal hygiene(changing bedpans, diapers, bathing) and chauffeuring.
Now, the Obama Administration is proposing tightening the exemption to include only full-time companions, and first-party hires. Predictably, Congressman Terry, and Senator Johanns oppose this, preferring to side with the home care industry over actual home care providers. Both have cosponsored legislation which keeps the current exemption in place.
I have to hand it to Senator Johanns. At least in his press release he was brave enough to come right out and say that he was opposing Minimum Wage and overtime protections for home care workers. Congressman Terry, in his press release, was only willing to refer to it as "the companionship exemption" without saying what was exempt. Perhaps it has something to do with Americans' overwhelming support for the Minimum Wage.
Congressman Terry concludes his press release by saying,
"Instead of regulating, we should continue to promote the health and cost benefits associated with in-home companionship. These companions have been a blessing to seniors, the disabled and home-bound."
I urge you to contact Congressman Terry and Senator Johanns and tell them that those home care companions who have been such a blessing to our seniors deserve to earn a fair wage.