The Fight to Protect America's Growing Home Care Workforce
By Bryce Covert, Next New Deal Editor
People who care for children, elderly people, and disabled folks of all ages in home settings make it possible for the rest of us to head to our jobs, yet they're consistently left out of basic labor protections. That’s finally starting to change. In 2010, New York passed a Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights that ensures decent work hours, paid time off, and recourse for discrimination. Now, the fight for similar bills has expanded to other states. The issue also recently made progress at the federal level, with President Obama announcing a proposed change to federal labor law late last year December that will cover more home care workers. The comment period for the proposed change ends next week.
These workers, predominantly women and people of color, comprise a booming industry: The number of home health aide jobs, for example, is projected to grow by 50 percent by 2018. But the pay and benefits remain dismal, with home health aides earning a median salary of less than $10 an hour. They rarely receive paid time off, almost 40 percent have no health insurance, and half rely on public benefits to supplement their incomes. Nannies don’t fare any better: A recent survey showed that the most common pay is $600 per week, or $31,200 a year before taxes.