California Halts Implementation of Home Care Worker Overtime Pay
On Thursday, California Department of Social Services officials announced that the state will not implement overtime pay for all home care workers following a federal judge's decision to overturn a U.S. Department of Labor rule that would have extended minimum wage and overtime pay protections to such workers, the Los Angeles Times' "PolitiCal" reports.
CDSS spokesperson Michael Weston said, "There's no federal regulations requiring us to [pay overtime], so the state is not doing it" (Megerian, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 1/15).
Background on U.S. Dept. of Labor Rule
Under the rule, all home care workers would have been guaranteed at least the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 per hour. The rule also required that home care workers receive time-and-a-half pay for any hours beyond 40 hours per week (California Healthline, 10/9/14).
The rule was set to take effect Jan. 1.
In June 2014, three home care industry groups sued the federal government over the rule. They argued that it would destabilize the home care industry and result in reduced access to affordable and quality care for the elderly.
In October 2014, DOL announced that it would not begin enforcing the rule until June 30. However, California Department of Finance spokesperson H.D. Palmer said the state still planned to begin paying home care workers for overtime in January (California Healthline, 1/6).
Details, Effects of Ruling
On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon overturned the DOL rule, noting that only Congress has the authority to award extra pay to the approximately two million home care workers nationwide.
According to "PolitiCal," California -- which employs 400,000 workers through its In-Home Supportive Services program -- could save about $183.6 million over the next six months from its general fund by not paying overtime and other benefits. Further, the state stands to save an extra $314.2 million in the fiscal year beginning July 1.
DOL on Wednesday said it disagreed with the ruling, noting that it is "considering all of our legal options."
Meanwhile, union officials said they would push for overtime pay in California, regardless of the decision. They noted that Gov. Jerry Brown (D) agreed to include money for home care workers in his fiscal year 2015-2016 budget proposal ("PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 1/15). Brown's plan includes continued funding for overtime pay for IHSS and would end a 7% reduction in IHSS hours (California Healthline, 1/14).
Jon Youngdahl, executive director of the Service Employees International Union California State Council said, "Home care providers throughout the state will be working together to hold the governor to his commitment as the judge's ruling does not prohibit the state from fulfilling its promise of overtime" ("PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 1/15).
Meanwhile, United Domestic Workers of America Executive Director Doug Moore in a statement said, "We are deeply disappointed that the judge has once again sided with lawyers and lobbyists for a private industry that only seeks to protect its bottom line." He added, "[W]e call on Governor Jerry Brown and the Legislature to uphold the state's commitment to California home care workers, and move forward with providing overtime pay and labor protections in 2015" (UDW release, 1/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.