Smoothing the way for better pay for Ohio’s home-care workforce

 
7.7.16

Low wages are a challenge that’s all too familiar for the nation’s direct support workforce, and in Ohio in particular, it’s a problem that is not being overlooked. According to a recent article on Cleveland.com, home-care workers in Ohio are pressing for an increase in wages to $15 an hour.

According to the article, until recently the nation’s home-care workforce – over 2 million of them to be exact – did not have wage and hour protections like the rest of America’s workforce. New federal rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) have changed that, protecting home-care workers with a wage floor, time sheets and overtime pay.

The new FLSA rules are a huge step forward in helping to stabilize the workforce and improve quality of care. According to the article, home-care workers in Ohio typically get at least minimum wage, but many are not paid for travel time between clients and don’t get overtime for long hours worked. The state’s 86,000 direct support professionals are underpaid for demanding jobs that often require training and even certification.

In Ohio, the majority of these workers are employed by agencies, which are responsible for implementing the new rules. However, thousands also work as “independent providers,” employed by the person receiving the care but paid by the state.

Cleveland.com states that last year, Ohio officials considered eliminating independent providers, initially citing fraud and abuse as the reason, but “rather quickly turned around and admitted the real reason was cost.” Many home-care workers were angered by the accusation of corruption and what was widely seen as efforts to avoid the cost of fair labor practices.

The article calls for the state to do a better job of ensuring that the new federal rules are properly implemented and enforced. This goes for not only Ohio, but for the direct support workforce nationwide. Data needs to be collected and analyzed – officials need to see hours worked and travel time for direct support workers. They need to budget better for costs, and develop oversight and enforcement mechanisms to ensure fair pay and accurate timekeeping.

Wages also need to be raised. Workers in the gigantic field of direct support earn too little as a result of legislators failing to appropriate funds to pay them a living wage. A wage increase would lower a shockingly high turnover rate and stabilize this fast-growing workforce.

Taking care of our elderly and disabled is an essential need that’s widely supported throughout the nation. Taking better care of those who care for our loved ones is necessary to ensure competent care for our family members and neighbors – in Ohio and beyond.

Find out how DirectCourse is committed to helping our direct support workforce provide the highest quality of care possible.

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