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View Diary: Senate Republicans trying to keep home care workers from making minimum wage (59 comments)

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  •  What, exactly, is the President's proposal? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparhawk, VClib, JanL

    I remember when our family had an aged parent in the hospital, for example, the family paid for a "sitter" (that's how they were advertised) to essentially stay in the hospital room overnight so that family members (who were taking turns to stay in the room during the day) could go home to sleep.  (This person made clear that she was not responsible for providing medical services.)  Would the change in the law mean that someone like that would be paid minimum wage?  Or does the law distinguish between those who do, in fact, advertise themselves as part time "sitters" from those who are full time in-home companions, as in the President's example?  

    For the most part, as in my experience, the families pay for the in-home companions for relatives if they, themselves, cannot be there, so I think this will have a significant impact on not only the workers, but also the families who often get together to pay the workers, so I'm interested to see where this goes.  

    •  Here's some info: (5+ / 0-)
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      jfromga, VClib, Egalitare, MKinTN, antirove
      The home health care worker exemption (called the companionship exemption) was put into place in 1974 to allow family and friends to provide care without worrying about minimum wage and overtime provisions. However, since the exemption was added to the law, the home health care industry has grown. According to an article in the New York Times, 90 percent of home health care workers work for agencies. While most of these workers receive at least the minimum wage, many do not receive overtime pay if they work for more than 40 hours a week.

      The proposed new rule would amend the companionship exemption so that it does not apply to home care workers who are employed by third parties or to home care professionals employed directly by families. It would still exempt casual babysitters and caregivers.

      In your situation, the devil would appear to be in the details.  It seems to me that the situation you describe could be construed either way - the person is a home care professional employed by your family (pay minimum wage) or is the person a casual caregiver? As a non-related third party, probably the former, which is as it should be.

      Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

      by absdoggy on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 09:09:05 AM PDT

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      •  It may mean that families (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib

        just don't hire as many of those "sitters" any more, I guess.  

        More often than not, for families to come up with the money now is not always an easy thing.  This is one area, I think, where a mandatory increase in the pay scale will result less hiring.  We're not talking about Fortune 500 companies paying for this, for the most part.  I can understand if an insurance company, or even Medicare/Medicaid were paying of this.  I am a bit more ambivalent about including families in there -- I do think that it will cause some families, who had to do a bit of sacrifice to hire a sitter now, to think twice.  

        I guess it's a decision between (1) do you want more people working at these jobs at a lower wage; or (2) do you want fewer people working but those who do get paid better?  This is one area -- hiring by family members -- where I cannot see how you significantly increase a pay scale without sacrificing some hiring.

        •  As noted above, 90% of these workers (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Egalitare, JanL, julifolo

          are through agencies, and for them, I suspect there are medical issues and so all or part of their cost is being paid by insurance.  Then, some of the 10% that aren't through an agency are those home care workers that do provide some medical treatment, or some household work (cleaning, running errands, etc.) and are already paid at least minimum wage, if not more.

          So, maybe 5 - 7% of the home health workers at most are just private sitters being paid for by families.  If we're being honest, I suspect that many of these arrangements are already "under the table" and that these sitters are being paid in cash and not declaring their income. So, these would continue as is.

          Therefore, we're talking about regulations that will positively affect and protect a good 97% of these workers, and a very small % that might be dropped by families that won't pay minimum wage. As the population ages, the demand for home health workers is increasing.

          My conclusion would then be that the new regulations are a positive step and the right thing to do.

          Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

          by absdoggy on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 10:26:18 AM PDT

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          •  I agree, this is about agency/corporate costs... (0+ / 0-)

            ...and in the bigger picture, the this-means-woe-to-private-sitters is more a diversion.

            We can call them homehealth agencies, tho' it's important to recognize that they are corporations, receiving  insurance compensation including Medicaid & Medicare, and as an industry they have lobbyists advocating for legislative measures that they think will help increase their potential profitability. The Republican stance on this issue seems to represent an example of this advocacy come to fruition.

            Cheers.

        •  It actually sounds (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ZenTrainer

          like the situation you describe would be exempt:

          It would still exempt casual babysitters and caregivers.
          I guess you have a quandary -- do we pay home health providers a minimum wage (not even talking about "living" wage"), or do we pay them crap and expect the taxpayers to cover their asses with food stamps, Medicaid and the like?

          Mitt Romney: the Etch-A-Sketch candidate in the era of YouTube

          by Cali Scribe on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 09:59:42 AM PDT

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    •  Why should a full time worker not be entitled to (0+ / 0-)

      the dignity of the minimum wage ? Truly part time, casual workers are different (as opposed to those who are only being given enough hours to make them under the legal definition).

                             Truly asking,
                                Heather

      Torture is ALWAYS wrong, no matter who is inflicting it on whom.

      by Chacounne on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 10:26:33 AM PDT

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