Guam – A Federal Court says nearly two-million home care workers possibly including hundreds in the territories will now qualify for minimum wage and overtime.
Hundreds of home care-givers in Guam and the CNMI could benefit from a D.C. federal appeals court ruling that upholds Obama Labor Department minimum wage and overtime rules for those who help the elderly and disabled. The appellate court reversed a lower court in allowing the new rules that end a 1974 federal wage and hour exemption for home-care workers hired by third-party agencies.
Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo’s office says while some elderly and disabled receive help from within their family, others receive outside, paid help. The Labor Department will not say yet if the court ruling applies to the islands but there is enough interest that CNMI Congressman Greg ‘Kilili’ Sablan’s office here, is already looking at the issue. While Guam is covered by the 7-25 federal minimum, the NMI is covered by an immigration law that requires incremental wage hikes to achieve the federal minimum.
Yet both may be covered by the court ruling, since they both fall under federal minimum wage laws and the Fair Labor Standards Act that also covers overtime. Sablan’s Office says it’s not aware of any territorial exceptions to Fair Labor Standards…and both US and foreign workers in the islands are covered by federal minimum wage laws. As many as 350- foreign care-givers and others received USCIS extendable ‘parole status’ starting in 2011. At the time, Sablan called it “good news” for anyone with an aging parent, or our Man’amko, and those with ‘special needs’ children.
The Labor Department called the rule to be phased in over 15-months, “the right thing to do,” both for caregivers who help feed, bathe and give medicine to the elderly and disabled, and for those who need professional help so they can stay in their homes and communities.