WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement in response to the announcement that the Wage and Hour Division at Department of Labor will move forward with implementing the final rule to provide minimum wage and overtime protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act to home care workers, but will also institute temporary delays in administrative enforcement. The rule will go into effect in January 2015.
“I applaud the Department of Labor's efforts to move forward with this critical rule. Both caregivers and the consumers they care for will benefit from policies that provide fair wages and a stable, professionalized workforce, and that’s what this rule will bring,” Harkin said. “The Department has done a tremendous amount of outreach to affected stakeholders, and is clearly taking careful steps to implement these changes in a thoughtful and balanced manner that will ensure a smooth transition. I am grateful for their efforts on this front, and I look forward to working with the Obama Administration, and all the affected stakeholders as we continue to implement these new protections for our essential home care workforce. ”
The enforcement delay announced by the Department of Labor will give states additional time to work with stakeholders to put in place policies and funding that are necessary for full implementation. The final rule will result in a more stable long-term care workforce which will receive higher wages and experience better work conditions. A careful implementation of the final rule will result in services and supports for those who are aging and those with disabilities that will allow them to continue to live in their homes and communities. This is especially important because the home care industry currently faces high rates of turnover due to poor wages and work conditions.
As Chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, Harkin has been a leading voice for strong worker protections and the rights of individuals with disabilities to live fully integrated lives in their communities. Earlier this year, Harkin, joined by eight Senate colleagues, introduced legislation to restore overtime protections for low- and mid-wage salaried workers. In June 2014 he introduced the Community Integration Act, that would require States to provide the same supports and services to a person with a disability in the community that is provided in institutional settings. Harkin is also the Senate author of the Minimum Wage Fairness Act, a bill that would raise the national minimum wage to $10.10 and give 28 million workers a raise.