The United States Department of Labor announced yesterday that it will delay the enforcement of a new rule which will extend minimum wage and overtime protections to more than 2 million home care workers in the United States.
The rule was supposed to go into effect in full starting in January, but now will not be enforced between January 1st and June 30th. After this there another probationary period until December 31st, during which the Labor Department “will exercise prosecutorial discretion in determining whether to bring enforcement actions.”
The Labor Department said that it will engage in “extensive outreach and technical assistance efforts” during this 12 month period, which will include working with states on how to carry out these new protections.
Coverage like this for low-wage workers have been pressed by advocates for quite some time, especially for workers that care for the elderly and disabled. A group representing these workers criticized the decision to put off enforcing the new rule, saying the delay would fall hardest on low-income women, who make up the largest percentage of the home-care workforce.
“We were alarmed by recent remarks by Department of Labor officials suggesting that the Department may delay implementation of the rule, which we fear would put this historic workplace victory in jeopardy,” said a coalition of advocates in a letter Labor Secretary Tom Perez.
In response to these concerns, the National Employment Law Project said, “In opting not to delay the effective date of the new rule, Secretary Perez and the Labor Department are signaling that home care workers have waited long enough for the fundamental right to a fair wage, and they will no longer be denied,” said project Executive Director Christine Owens. “The six-month enforcement suspension gives employers extra time to get their act together, but they should be under no illusions about their responsibility to follow through on these important reforms.”
Read more about the story at The Huffington Post.