Business

Labor secretary tells Otter to enforce home-care wage rule

This story has been updated from its original version, to include the timeline for enforcement of the rule and information about letters sent to other states.

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The U.S. Department of Labor is urging Gov. Butch Otter to act on a new rule that requires home-care employers to pay most home-care workers minimum wage and overtime.

The federal rule went into effect in October 2013 but has gone through court challenges. Last month, a federal appeals court upheld the rule. The department will not enforce the rule until 30 days after the ruling becomes effective — which would be at least mid-October. However, home-care agencies have asked to delay that as they consider whether to seek a Supreme Court review.

“Although the court’s opinion does not take effect immediately, and the timeline for issuance of the court’s mandate depends on various factors, I am writing to again encourage your state to thoughtfully prepare for compliance now,” the letter from U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said.

Perez sent similar letters to the governors of all 50 states, according to a spokesperson for the department.

Perez said the state may have to adjust its budgets and programs, to ensure compliance with the new wage rule and with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects people who have disabilities, many of whom rely on home care.

Several states already include home-care workers in minimum wage and overtime-pay protections. Idaho is not one of them.

Perez said that “public entities must have in place an individualized process” to make sure that if a worker’s home-care hours are cut because of the wage rule, the reduction isn’t so great that it keeps a consumer from being able to live at home.

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