NDWA Statement on Proposed Fair Pay Regulations for Home Care Workers
12.16.2011 | NDWA
President Obama announcing new Proposed Department of Labor Regulations on Fair Labor Standards for Home Care Workers. Watch his speech here.
The National Domestic Workers Alliance supports the new regulations proposed by the Department of Labor to clarify the companionship exemption of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and to end the unjust exclusion of millions of home care workers from minimum wage and overtime protections. The proposed regulations recognize the importance of the work that caregivers perform and represent an important step towards ensuring both that these vital workers are treated with dignity and respect and that our loved ones receive the care that they need.
Domestic workers, along with farmworkers, were explicitly excluded from coverage in FLSA when it was first enacted — the direct legacy of slavery, as this work had been done by slaves and was at the time still largely done by African-Americans. Therefore, we oppose the exclusion of any workers from the minimum requirements of labor law. We believe that the rights to be paid minimum wage and receive overtime pay are fundamental protections that should be available to all workers, including domestic workers who are providing vital services and supports that enable aging seniors and people with disabilities to live in their homes and communities.
We are especially pleased that the proposed regulations require employers of live-in domestic workers to keep records of workers’ work hours. Currently, only employers of domestic workers who do not live in their employer's homes are required to keep these records. Live-in domestic workers are especially vulnerable to wage and hour violations and exploitation, and this record-keeping requirement is critical to effective enforcement of their rights to be compensated fully and fairly.
The Department of Labor will be taking comments on the proposed regulatory changes for 60 days. The Department of Labor needs to hear from individuals and families who will benefit from these changes. We encourage all domestic workers, consumers, and anyone who has a loved one who needs in home care to join us in urging the Department of Labor to narrow the companionship exemption.
We know that this moment was only possible because of the tireless work and sacrifice of many organizers and workers. Great movements create the context for great acts of leadership. The struggle is not over, and we look forward to the day when all workers are valued, and when everyone has the resources they need to live with dignity.