Wage Pass-Through Report
Ruqaiijah Yearby, Nathan Gardner, Spencer Davis, Kate Tomey, Anat Goss, Maya Lawson, Josie Finch, Katelyn Garland, Laura Doud, Crystal Lewis, Fawn Pettet, Chereka Klutz, Hannah Clark, and Sara Reinoso
Direct Care Workers, COVID-19, and Pay Inequities
According to a Harvard Medical School study published in The Lancet, health care workers of color, especially direct care workers, were more likely to care for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and nearly twice as likely as their white counterparts to test positive for the coronavirus.
In 2018, there were approximately 832,000 home health care workers, which is projected to grow to 1.1 million in 2028 because of the growing elderly population. Direct care workers are primarily women of color (59%); live in poverty (20%) compared to 7% of all US workers, rely on some form of public assistance including food stamps and Medicaid (53%), do not have paid sick leave, and treated as independent contractors. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 limited the work week to 40 hours and established federal minimum wage and overtime requirements, but does not cover independent contractors.
Many of these workers are not covered under COVID-19 economic relief bills. Thus, it is important that states have wage pass-through laws that provide additional pay for these workers. The Institute for Healing Justice and Equity with SLU law students complied a legal landscape of the wage pass-through laws implement thought out the United States, which we hope can be used to support these workers.
This report has been used by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and its consultants in a webinar of state leaders seeking to adopt wage pass through measures. It was also featured in the February 2021 newsletter of PHI National, the leading authority on the U.S. direct care workforce.
Published September 2020