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New Wage Regulations For Senior Home Care Workers

Considering the widespread reported instance of Illinois nursing home neglect, it is no wonder than many local seniors and disabled residents would much prefer to stay in their own home when they need extra long-term care. Earlier this week we reported on the settlement in a high-profile Illinois nursing home lawsuit involving individuals with physical disabilities. Those residents won the right to have their public assistance applied to at-home care which will allow them to leave the nursing home. The slow shift away from nursing homes is an important development that will likely have quality of life benefits for all those who are able to take advantage.

However, it is important not to forget that Illinois elder abuse can just as easily occur outside of the nursing home as it can inside it. In fact, there are countless cases of documented abuse each year, often committed by the very people who are supposed to help those while at home (including family members). It remains vital for families seeking to choose an appropriate at-home care worker to take the time to learn about their options and make an informed choice. Often, choosing one who works via a professional placement agency is the far safest and most reliable choice.

Recently many advocates have voiced concerns that there is shortage of quality at-home care workers. Part of the problem, they explain, is that many of these workers were actually exempt from the minimum wage laws under a bizarre “companion” loophole. The exemption from the requirement to pay minimum wages and for overtime was meant to apply to teen babysitters. Instead, it was used by some unscrupulously to deny these elder care home workers the same protections. In fact, a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court case affirmed that these workers were exempt, forcing Congress or the labor administration to change the rules. This was a troubling proposition from a basic fairness standpoint. But beyond that, it also placed seniors at risk. Elder neglect and abuse perpetrated by overworked and underpaid at-home care workers was much more likely than when the care was provided by those who were on the same playing field as all other national workers.

Fortunately, that may soon change as President Obama has proposed changing the rules to apply the laws to these nearly two million at-home care workers. This would change the nearly 37-year old exemption of these individuals from the Fair Labor Standards Act. In making the proposals the President explained that the action “will ensure that these men and woman get paid fairly for a service that a growing number of older Americans couldn’t live without.” Women were disproportionately affected, as nearly 92% of these workers are female. Experts explain that the overtime inclusion will likely be the largest change. Most of these individuals already received the minimum wage, however, man y more did not receive the time and a half premium when they worked more than forty hours a week. Medicare increases would apparently be modest, with anywhere from a .06 percent to .29 percent increase in total federal and state home care payments.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Illinois Nursing Home Neglect Lawsuit Filed Against Virgil Calvert Nursing Home

Illinois Group Home Abuse Remains Overlooked Problem