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Business & Economy

Utah Home Care Workers to Receive Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay

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http://phinational.org/policy/states/utah/

Home care workers in Utah and across the country will now be entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay. The US Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez sent a letter to Governor Gary Herbert this week advising him that a US Court of Appeals has upheld the Home Care Final Rule, and that Utah will be required to comply.

In Utah, there are more than 15,000 nursing assistants, personal care and health aides working in people’s homes, and that number is growing. 49 percent of them receive public assistance like Medicaid or food support. The median wage for a personal aide is $9.62 an hour. Elly Kugler is federal policy director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

“This is a really exciting moment, where we’re going to see an opportunity for Utah and every other state in the country to make sure that every homecare worker is being paid wages that allow them to support their families,” Kugler says.  

She says the first step Utah needs to take is to look at the new overtime and minimum wage protections and see if there will be additional costs that will affect the state budget. She says in most states, about 70% of those in the homecare industry are working as part of a publicly funded Medicaid program.

Alison Barkoff is a national disability rights advocate. She’s worried about what will happen if states like Utah don’t put more money in the budget for home care.

“There’s a real concern that if states comply with this by putting in caps around worker overtime, other restrictive policies, and it leads to cuts in services, people could be placed at risk of having to leave the community and their own homes and enter nursing facilities,” Barkoff says.

Jaceson Maughan of the Utah Labor Commission told KUER that officials in his office have seen the letter from Secretary Thomas Perez and they are now reviewing the state’s options. He did not know whether there would be changes to the budget or if there would be action taken by the state legislature.

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