Trump: Advocate for the Disabled and Elderly

J.B. Bensmihen is vice president of Evergreen Private CareEvergreen in the News: The Orlando Sentinel

President-elect Trump pledged to unravel much of what President Obama created through executive orders and the reinterpretation of laws by federal regulators. Trump and the new Congress have also promised an aggressively pro-business agenda. Both now have an opportunity to undo an action of the Obama administration in a way that will appear solidly pro-business, but actually support the disabled and the elderly.

This change involves the Companionship Exemption to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act. The FLSA requires people who work more than 40 hours per week to be paid time-and-a-half for overtime. It’s a good law that makes sense for assembly-line workers, nurses in doctors’ offices, orderlies in hospitals, etc.

But there are some jobs and situations where this overtime rule doesn’t make sense. Consider workers who provide home care and companionship for the disabled and the elderly. These caregivers often work overnight, typically in 12-hour shifts. Many work 40 to 60 hours per week. In St. Petersburg, where I live, home-care workers are typically paid $11 to $12 an hour, and home-care companies bill their clients about $18 an hour. This means that a year of 50-hour-per-week care costs almost $47,000 — with no overtime pay.

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