Capitol Alert

California to pay overtime to home-care workers next year

More than 4,000 home care providers and clients rallied at the state Capitol in June 2014. The state will begin paying overtime to many home-care workers starting Feb. 1.
More than 4,000 home care providers and clients rallied at the state Capitol in June 2014. The state will begin paying overtime to many home-care workers starting Feb. 1. mcrisostomo@sacbee.com

After a lengthy budget debate and legal fight, California will start paying overtime to hundreds of thousands of home-care workers starting Feb. 1, the Brown administration said this week.

California has almost 400,000 home-care service providers who help more than a half-million people. Wednesday’s announcement by the Department of Social Services means that the state will tap some of the $270 million set aside in the current budget to pay for overtime costs in the In-Home Supportive Services program.

The budget appropriation assumed the state would begin paying overtime Oct. 1. On Friday, the leader of the largest union representing home-care workers chafed at the four-month delay.

“We welcome the opportunity to continue working with the Department of Social Services and the consumer representatives to ensure the successful implementation of the overtime regulation, but believe that caregivers deserve overtime payment for work being performed now,” Laphonza Butler, the president of SEIU California and president of SEIU Local 2015, said in a statement.

$2.8 billion General fund spending on In-Home Supportive Services in 2015-16, an increase of 27.9 percent from 2014-15

The overtime rules stem from an October 2013 regulation from the Obama administration’s Department of Labor. California lawmakers passed a state budget the following June that included $403.5 million in 2014-15 to pay for the overtime, while imposing limits on how many extra hours home-care workers could accumulate.

But all of that was put on hold after the Home Care Association of America and other industry groups went to court challenging the federal rules, saying they would “severely disrupt the ability of home care employers to provide companionship services to millions of elderly and disabled individuals.” A federal judge sided with the association in December 2014.

But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently ruled in favor of the Department of Labor, and the federal rules went into effect Oct. 13.

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