While most of us know that the baby boomer population is vast, many do not realize the impact this population will have as they start to retire over the next few decades. In fact, over the next 20 years, 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 everyday. Between 65-70 years old has been the age of retirement for many, with some retiring early and some pushing through another decade of work. However, as this generation gets older, their need for care will continue to grow.
In late June, the Supreme Court decided not to hear Home Care Association of America v. Weil, a case that was attempting to deprive home care workers of their ability to qualify for minimum wage and additionally, for overtime pay for those hours worked over 40 per week. These home care workers have been part of the ‘Fight for 15’ movement to get equal pay and higher pay for minimum wage. Home care workers have previously been labeled by the Labor Department as ‘companions,’ which does not allow them to qualify as employees who are subject to minimum wage and overtime pay. The rules governing home care workers were not fixed until this past year, when the Labor Department determined that home care employers needed to follow the same rules as any other employer and pay their employees according to minimum wage standards.
The federal rules imposed by the Labor Department are in accordance with state laws already in place in 21 states that provide a voice and safety for home care workers. In July 2015, Massachusetts was the first state to pass a $15 hourly wage for home care workers. Local home care workers not only saw it as a win for the hard working population, but also for those they serve, because they will be better able to assist them and as the population continues to grow, the jobs can potentially be more attractive to those who may have not considered it before, based on the low wages. The wage will be slowly increased over the next few years, reaching $15 by July 1, 2018. Massachusetts also passed in 2006 the Quality Home Care Workforce Act, allowing the personal care attendants the right to form a union and also to implement new procedures in the health care delivery system. With the population aging so quickly, many other states should look to Massachusetts to encourage job placement in home care, benefitting both the workforce and the elderly population.