Washington, D.C. (October 7, 2014)– Today the U.S. Department of Labor issued new guidance regarding companionship regulations, which will ensure critical wage and hour protections for in-home workers, while minimizing any disruption in services to the people who use consumer directed care.
At the prior urging of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the Department of Labor has elected to delay enforcement of the new regulation for six months, which will allow states, service providers, and people with disabilities additional time to ensure the integrity of services that people with disabilities count on to live their lives and maintain their independence. For an additional six months, the Department of Labor will take no action against entities that are showing a good faith effort towards implementation. The rule will go into full effect in January of 2016.
“Minimum wage and overtime protections are not only the fair and right thing to do for this workforce, it is also necessary if we want to seriously invest in the people who provide these critical services to hundreds of thousands of Americans with Disabilities,” said Former Congressman and AAPD Board Member Tony Coelho. “I applaud Secretary Perez for this thoughtful leadership on this issue.”
Currently, hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities across the nation count on Medicaid funded long term services and supports and this number will grow over the coming decade. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, personal care attendants represent the fastest growing field in the United States with an estimated 1.3 million new jobs being added before 2020.
AAPD believes the new rule will increase the number of qualified workers who want jobs in home and community-based settings by drawing on the workforce that currently only works in institutional settings. Further, ending the exploitation of this workforce will improve the quality of the services delivered through Medicaid home and community-based services systems throughout the states by ensuring that these jobs are carried out by qualified and dedicated individuals who want to do the work.
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The American Association of People with Disabilities is a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities.