The U.S. Department of Labor announced Tuesday the launch of an ongoing education, outreach and enforcement initiative to ensure that employers pay caregivers “their rightful wages and honor all protections afforded them by law.““With this initiative, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division will focus on care workers in senior living and care facilities, as well as other areas where care workers are employed. This would include compliance assistance efforts with the industry to explain what the law requires so that they understand what it is to be in compliance,” a Labor Department spokesperson told the McKnight’s Business Daily.

The Labor Department noted that frontline caregivers are disproportionately women of color, and they also are among the nation’s lowest-paid workers. 

As part of the outreach component of the initiative, the effort also will focus on developing and strengthening partnerships with state and local agencies and other stakeholders, to ensure that employers fully understand their legal responsibilities, that workers know their rights, and that both realize that the Wage and Hour Division is ready to answer their questions or address their concerns, according to the press release.

Enforcement is a big part of the initiative “to encourage employer compliance and reduce violations by industry employers.” In fiscal year 2021, Wage and Hour Division recovered more than $38.7 million in back wages for healthcare industry workers. Misclassification of workers as independent contractors was a common violation cited by investigators.