Home health care workers get minimum wage protections

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, whose district includes part of Shelton, is pleased with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division announcement that the nation’s nearly two million home healthcare workers will now receive minimum wage protections.

The eligible workers assist elderly people and people with illnesses, injuries or disabilities in ways that allow them to go to work or school, live independently, and be more a part of their communities.

“For too long, direct care workers have been excluded from these basic protections, leaving many of them dependent on public assistance in order to get by,” said DeLauro, a 12-term Democrat. “As a result, this segment of the workforce has high turnover in the rapidly growing and increasingly critical home care industry.”

Will stabilize the workforce

“Today’s announcement is not just the fair thing to do for these hard workers, it will also help to stabilize the home care industry workforce, decrease turnover, and raise the overall quality of care for those families and individuals who rely on the indispensable services direct care workers provide,” DeLauro said.

DeLauro is the senior Democrat on the subcommittee responsible for funding the Department of Labor.

Congress had made exemption

The announcement — in the form of a final rule — takes into account the needs of the workers, the consumers, the home care industry, and the state government programs that incorporate or subsidize home care services, according to a press release from DeLauro’s office.

Congress amended the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1974 to include domestic service workers in its protections, carving out a narrow exception for those who serve as “companions” providing fellowship and protection to those who need it.

Over time, this exemption has been interpreted to include almost anyone in the home care industry. The rule today clarifies the exemption so that it is more consistent with Congress’s intent, the release said.

Shelton has two members of Congress

The city of Shelton is divided between the Third District, represented by DeLauro, and the Fourth District, represented by fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Himes.

DeLauro lives in New Haven and was first elected to Congress in 1990.