HCN News & Notes

Springfield-area Caregivers Seek New Overtime Rules at Hearing

SPRINGFIELD — Personal-care attendants from 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and their supporters will speak out during a listening-tour session today at 12:30 p.m. at the Mason Square Branch of Springfield Public Library, 765 State St.

Officials from the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) will hold a listening session at the library about implementing new regulations that govern newly available overtime protections for home-care workers.

The hearing will include discussion of how new regulations could impact 35,000 Massachusetts personal care attendants (PCAs) and their consumers, including more than 7,500 in the Springfield area. PCAs assist clients with tasks such as bathing, grooming, feeding, medication management, food preparation, and other life-preserving tasks that allow them to live independently at home, rather than receive institutionalized care.

“It will make a huge difference for my family when I have the opportunity to earn overtime pay for the care that I provide to keep my consumers healthy,” said Kindalay Cummings-Akers, a PCA from Springfield. “Hopefully, state health officials take the right steps to make sure that elders and people with disabilities come first as these new rules are developed. Personal-care attendants across Massachusetts want the opportunity to earn fair wages for the care we provide, and we’re asking state officials to ensure that we get that shot.”

Following the successful national campaign by SEIU home care workers to win the same overtime protections that most other workers are already guaranteed, the U.S. Department of Labor issued the Home Care Final Rule with support from President Obama, officially extending the federal protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to home-care workers on Jan. 1, 2015. Implementation and discretionary enforcement began nationwide two months ago.