Dec 05, 2013 | Permalink »
Justice Begins at Home: Extending FLSA Protections to Home Care Workers
By Lauren French
The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced that it would be extending the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage and overtime protections to workers who provide home care assistance to older adults and those with illness, injury or disability. This was welcome news for the nearly two million home workers who have long been denied these basic protections that most U.S. workers already enjoy.
To explain how this new rule would be implemented, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) hosted a webinar on December 3 featuring experts in the areas of home care work, employment law, and Medicare programs. The panelists discussed the details of implementing the new regulation and the ways in which it would affect workers and employers.
Cathy Ruckelshaus, General Counsel & Program Director of NELP, explained the history of the so-called companionship exemption. When Congress extended coverage of the Fair Labor Standards Act to domestic services workers in 1974 it created limited exceptions for casual baby sitters and workers providing companionship services for the elderly. However, Department of Labor regulations issued under the law defined the term "companionship services" very broadly to include workers such as certified nursing assistants and health aids.
Nov 20, 2013 | Permalink »
New Report Finds that Four in Ten Women Lack Economic Security
By Lauren French
Despite the increasingly important role of women in America's workforce, many are still struggling to afford basic needs and make ends meet. In conjunction with Representative Rosa DeLauro (CT-D), Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) recently hosted a congressional briefing to discuss these economic challenges. The briefing included remarks from Shawn McMahon, CEO of WOW; Teresa Younger, executive director of the Permanent Commission of the Status of Women in Connecticut; and Anastasia Braucht, a Jersey Shore restaurant worker and volunteer with Restaurant Opportunities Centers United.
The briefing highlighted a new WOW report that finds 45 percent of Americans are economically insecure. The report defines economic insecurity based on the Basic Economic Insecurity Tables Index (BEST), a measure of the basic needs and assets required to achieve financial stability, taking into account health care premiums, child care, retirement and emergency savings, and employer-based benefits. This measure goes beyond the baseline poverty rate, and instead calculates a benchmark income that allows families to make ends meet and escape poverty.
Nov 19, 2013 | Permalink »
75 Years of the FLSA: Celebrating and Looking Ahead
By Lauren French
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the first federal law to set standards for minimum wage, overtime, and child labor regulations. The Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor celebrated this milestone by bringing together workers, researchers, and advocates to discuss the development of the FLSA and the future of workplace protections.
The event featured a number of well-respected policy experts speaking on a range of issues that affect workers and employers, including the need to raise the minimum wage, reform overtime rules, increase enforcement efforts and address the struggles faced by women in the workforce. In discussing the contentious history of the FLSA passage, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez reminded attendees that the battles labor advocates and government officials face today are not so different from those faced 75 years ago. Secretary Perez quoted President Franklin Roosevelt, who warned, on the night before the signing of the FLSA, "Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000 a day, ...tell you...that a wage of $11 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry."