US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

Harkin Statement on Wage and Overtime Protections for Home Care Workers

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today issued the following statement after the U.S. Department of Labor finalized a critical rule to ensure fair wages for workers providing in-home care and support to seniors and people with disabilities. The finalized rule will amend an existing regulation that exempts 2 million home care workers from the Fair Labor Standards Act, and will ensure that most home care employees are protected by minimum wage and overtime standards. Harkin, who was the Senate author of the Americans with Disabilities Act, strongly supports the final rule and believes it will greatly benefit both the care providers and those for whom they provide support. 

“This new rule is a long overdue step to provide basic fairness for those who support and care for some of our most vulnerable citizens.  Caring for the elderly and providing support for those with disabilities so they can continue to live in their own homes and be active members of their communities is an invaluable service.  This rule recognizes the importance of these jobs and ensures that home care providers will have the same protections and rights as all other workers.  I applaud the Department of Labor for issuing these rules and look forward to their thoughtful, careful implementation.

“This new rule has the potential to provide tremendous benefits for both home care workers and those they support.  With thoughtful implementation, these rules can help reduce turnover and increase the size and quality of the home care workforce.  At the same time, we want to make sure the rules are implemented in such a way as to ensure that no one who depends on the services of an in-home provider suffers from the loss of services.  I encourage Secretary Perez and the entire Administration to engage the elderly and disability communities as these rules are implemented, to hear their concerns and ideas and to ensure continued services are protected.

“I thank the Secretary for his great leadership on finalizing this rule and look forward to its implementation for the benefit of both home care workers and those they support.”

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