US Department of Labor launches initiative to protect professional caregivers’ wages, rights; ensure industry employers comply with law
WASHINGTON – As the nation concludes National Home Care and Hospice Month, the U.S. Department of Labor’s work on behalf of the country’s professional caregivers continues with the launch of an ongoing education, outreach and enforcement initiative to ensure their employers pay them their rightful wages and honor all protections afforded them by law.
Disproportionally women of color and among the nation’s lowest paid workers, caregivers were among millions of frontline workers – often exposed to the risks of coronavirus infection – who labored through the pandemic as they tended to the needs of the sick, elderly and children.
“Professional caregivers have always been and continue to be some of our nation’s most essential workers. We look to them to care for us and our families and they deserve our appreciation, respect and protection,” said Acting Wage and Hour Administrator Jessica Looman. “The education, outreach and enforcement initiative we are announcing today will help ensure the rights of all workers are protected and employers who flout the law are held accountable.”
Led by the department’s Wage and Hour Division, the initiative focuses resources on educating essential care workers and their communities about their rights to minimum wage and overtime pay and how to file a complaint if they believe their rights have been violated. The initiate will also target misclassification of workers as independent contractors, an illegal practice that may deprive workers of legally earned wages, and other protections.
As part of its outreach component, the effort will also focus on developing and strengthening partnerships with state and local agencies, and other stakeholders, to ensure employers fully understand their legal responsibilities, that workers know their rights and both realize that the division is ready to answer their questions or address their concerns.
The initiative will also incorporate a strong enforcement component to encourage employer compliance and reduce violations by industry employers. In fiscal year 2021, the division recovered more than $38.7 million in back wages for healthcare industry workers, and identified misclassification of workers as independent contractors as an increasingly common violation cited by investigators.
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, contact the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division. Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions – regardless of their immigration status – and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages.