Biden Administration Launches Initiative to Protect Healthcare Workers’ Rights

On Tuesday, the Biden administration said it would strengthen law enforcement to ensure that key workers are paid correctly and educate people about their rights.

Under the new initiative Department of Labor plans to educate key carers about their right to minimum wages and overtime pay, and how to file a complaint if they believe their rights have been violated. The administration will also ensure that employers do not classify workers as independent contractors.

According to the press release, the Department of Labor will develop partnerships with state and local stakeholders to ensure that workers understand their rights and employers understand their responsibilities.

Employer compliance will be a key element of the initiative, the report says. Department returned more than $ 38.7 million non-payment of wages owed to healthcare workers in fiscal 2021, and surveyors increasingly find employers mistakenly identify workers as independent contractors.

“Professional guardians have always been and remain one of the most important workers in our country. We hope they will take care of us and our families and they deserve our appreciation, respect and protection, ”Acting Payroll and Hours Administrator Jessica Luhmann said in a statement. news release.

Care advocates say it’s nice to see department center workers talking about workers’ rights.

“I think the really positive thing about that, which we hope to see as the details of this effort move forward, is that workers will indeed have the opportunity to be the best advocates for themselves when it comes to not only increasing individual pay, but better systems. staff support, ”said Nicole Jorvik, Head of Advocacy and Campaigns at Caring Across Generations.

The Labor Department said it has timed its announcement to end National Home Care and Hospice Month. The initiative extends to home health care assistants as there is a rule-breaking practice in the home care industry, the spokesperson said. But this also applies to nurses, emergency medical technicians, childcare workers, and others.

According to Bill Dombey, president and CEO of the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, most home care providers understand the rights of home care workers, but some need training. Vendors have focused on improvements in recent years, including properly defining paid hours and figuring out when an employee can be classified as an independent contractor, he said.

Improvements in these areas “will help home care companies avoid costly audits and potential litigation, as well as the double harm that comes with [Fair Labor Standards Act] violations, “- said Dombey.

Department of Labor has implemented the rule in 2015 to extend overtime and federal minimum wage protections to the industry. The home care industry challenged this rule, but the Supreme Court upheld it. V Discovered by the Accounts Chamber of the Government in 2020 this rule has led some states to limit workers’ hours of work so that they do not work overtime. According to the GAO, homecare workers did not make significantly more money after this rule.

Dombey said employers cannot afford overtime, often due to low Medicaid rates.

“The consequences are getting worse today as [the] the labor shortage is growing. However, the decision is not in the employer’s non-compliance. Instead, payers need to be more active and cover overtime costs, at least until the number of employees increases, ”he said.

Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the employment of home care assistants and personal care assistants – an area dominated by women of color – will grow 33% between 2020 and 2030, much faster than the average employment growth rate.

As the COVID-19 pandemic creates more demand for home care, the Biden administration has made improving working conditions a priority. President Joe Biden initially proposed that Congress invest $ 400 billion in Medicaid home and community services, in part to help raise wages for home caregivers. A reconciliation bill passed by the House of Representatives and currently under review by the Senate cuts investment to $ 150 billion.

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