Texas Republicans Champion Higher Wages for Home Care Workers
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has proposed a new budget that will dedicate $105 million to raise the current $7.50 average hourly pay for personal attendants by five percent to around $7.87 per hour, on average. More than 150,000 Texas residents rely on the services of low-paid personal attendants to stay in their own homes and communities. Many personal attendants often leave low-paying jobs caring for clients in the community for more lucrative positions in institutional settings and nursing facilities that can pay as much as $15 per hour, leaving people with disabilities in Texas facing a severe labor shortage of personal attendants.
The governor’s proposal intends to cut long-term costs of institutional placements by incentivizing workers to provide the home health care necessary to keep people with intense support needs living in the community and maintaining employment. Disability advocates argue that the proposed wage increase is insufficient, and have been pushing the state to raise the minimum wage for personal attendants to $10 per hour.
Last year, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a new rule on wages and overtime for home health care workers, which has sparked nationwide discussion on labor practices for personal attendants. The Home Rule allows states to develop budgetary resources over the next year to implement the rule, which would allow home health care workers to receive minimum wage and overtime protections. The rule narrows a companionship exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act that previously prevented many home health care workers from earning higher wages or overtime pay.