The Department of Labor to Review “Companion” Healthcare Laws

In 1975, the United States classified home healthcare workers as companions – a title initially intended for teenage babysitters – and created a class of worker in the United States that does not qualify for overtime or minimum wage.

The United States has over two million home healthcare workers, many of which are women and minorities. They assist the sick at their homes with nursing care but often with housework as well- making for very long days away from their own families and homes.

According to this 2011 Home Healthcare report, as of 2007, the United States had 1.5 million patients that needed home healthcare help; the mean length of service for the healthcare providers was 315 days and the average patient diagnosis was diabetes. By 2050, an estimated 27 million people will need some type of long-term care (1). Of those 27 million, the majority will receive long-term care in the community (with home health and hospice care agencies being the major providers of community-based long-term care).

Under the Obama administration, the Labor Department is attempting to fix this wrong by making home healthcare workers eligible to receive minimum wage and overtime pay. The Labor Department will decide after a 60-day comment period. This is a dramatic change in attitude from 2007, when Ms. Coke, a former home healthcare worker, sued her employer for overtime and lost the case 9-0 with the United States Supreme Court.

You can find more information on this subject here: Fairness for Home Care AidesHome Health Care and the National Health and Statistics Report.

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