Job burnout is precarious in any industry. But when it comes to the business of caregiving, the dignity and security of our families is at stake. Simply put, quality work conditions enable quality care.
In the "caring industry," only a win-win solution can work. Tech companies, who facilitate the relationship between workers and families and who are driving the future of the industry, must play a significant role in ensuring that this future works for both the givers and receivers of care. Caregivers who are respected for what they do and who earn a living wage are not only able to support themselves and their families better but are also able to provide top quality care to the families they serve.
I saw first-hand how difficult it is to secure good home care when my family managed the care for my sister with Multiple Sclerosis and my uncle who fought the battle with ALS for seven years. I found our options for finding the right caregivers to be extremely costly, while the caregivers who worked with and helped my family struggled to financially support their own families.
Last week, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1015, known as the 2016 Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, into law ensuring that California's 300,000 domestic workers, including in-home caregivers, have permanent overtime protections. This bill is historic because since the 1930s, these workers have been left out of the basic labor protections that most Americans have come to take for granted.
Having worked with caregivers for over a decade, I applaud Governor Brown and the California State Legislature for raising the standards for fair working conditions. By permanently securing overtime protections for domestic workers, Governor Brown and the Legislature have reversed the unjust conditions that have affected workers who are disproportionately low income, women, and people of color. I am proud that California is one of the first states in the country to adopt the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.
Raising standards such as these could not be more necessary and timely. According to Ai-jen Poo, the Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and author of The Age of Dignity, the percentage of the U.S. population that is over 65 will be one in five by 2030. Meanwhile, the 2014 national median turnover rate for caregivers was 61.6 percent. The need for care will only increase, and our standards must keep pace to ensure we can meet the demand for high quality care.
So, signing SB 1015 into law is indeed historic but it isn't enough. Enforcement cannot fall on the Legislature or the workers alone. Rather, care companies, particularly those in the tech sector, have the opportunity to lead. For too long, our industry functioned like the "wild west," where individual companies set worker standards. Now that the law has resolved what the standard should be, tech platforms and marketplaces should embrace these protections as what is right for both workers and customers. One of the steps we have taken on our platform, for example, is providing a seamless way to track worker hours and to process payroll, making it as easy as possible for families to compensate caregivers on the books and in line with the newly enacted domestic worker overtime law.
Another way for tech platforms and marketplaces to embrace quality work conditions is to sign on to the Good Work Code. This Code, created by the National Domestic Workers Alliance, lays out eight values on which "good work" is built and provides guidance for companies to change their culture and policies to improve the quality of both the jobs they offer and the services they provide.
Most employers and families want to do the right thing. And they know that the quality of their care is intimately connected with the well-being of their caregiver. After significant pressure from social movements, the government has taken an incredible step forward in paving the high road and shutting off the low one. Now is the time for the private sector to do its part to create an economy that cares for all of us.
California's caregivers and the families who employ them deserve it. And the future well-being of all our families demand it.
Follow Sherwin Sheik on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CareLinx