Home healthcare workers are providing essential care for seniors across the city, but they face harsh and unfair working conditions. Often forced to take on 24-hour shifts for days on end, they care for patients around-the-clock, even though they are only paid for 13 hours of each 24-hour shift.
Home healthcare workers are forced to sacrifice their own health and family life.
Imagine heading into your job and being told by your boss that you can’t go home that evening or even the next evening or even several days later. Imagine being forced to decide between getting enough sleep and protecting your own health and the health and safety of a senior client who relies on you. Imagine trying to care for your own family, when you are forced to work for 24 hours a day – for days on end. This is the reality for many home healthcare workers.
Ending forced 24-hour work days isn’t controversial.
Safe working conditions, a reasonable work schedule, and fair pay are the basic workplace tenets for healthy communities and a just society.
Women still take on most caregiving work, which continues to be devalued and underpaid. Home healthcare workers – who are mostly women of color and immigrant women – continue to be mistreated and overworked. In fact, New York state employs around 239,000 home care workers of whom 93% identify as women and 79% as immigrants. The demand for home care workers continues to grow with the increased needs of an aging population.
Here’s what we can do to end abusive workplaces in NY.
Legislation that will prohibit the shameful and unconscionable practice of the 24-hour workdays that harm workers and put patients at risk has been introduced. Assemblymember Harvey Epstein and State Senator Roxanne Persaud are the lead sponsors of A.8064/S.6640, which will require shifts to be limited to 12 hours. An individual who requires around-the-clock care would have two different attendants who split the 24-hour shift in half. In addition, the number of hours a home care worker could be contracted to work would be capped at 50 hours a week. Additional hours after 50 must be voluntary.
Here’s what you can say:
[First, let them know your name and neighborhood.] “I’m calling because I strongly support ending mandatory 24-hour shifts for home healthcare workers. I ask that you co-sponsor and support State Senate Bill S.6640/State Assembly Bill A.8064. I hope you’ll commit to changing our laws to end strenuous 24-hour work days and ensure that the health of these workers is protected and the seniors they care for are getting the best, most attentive care available. Especially for this majority women of color and immigrant workforce, we must act to ensure that every worker is given dignity, respect, and the ability to care for themselves and their families.” [Be sure to add your own story if you have one!]
Fair pay and reasonable hours are vital for workers and the patients they care for.
Everyone deserves to have a break from work where they have time to spend with loved ones and recharge. Working 24-hour shifts with little break can be detrimental to one’s health, is unsustainable and exploitative. The best care can be given to patients when their home care workers have time to recuperate and relax before the next shift.