Aging and Caring in the Home: Regulating Paid Domesticity in the Twenty-First Century

67 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2008  

Peggie R. Smith

Washington University in Saint Louis - School of Law

Abstract

Home is the preferred setting of most elderly persons who require assistance because of health problems. Consequently, as the baby boom generation sparks an unprecedented growth in the size of the elderly population, households are using paid care givers to provide home-based care services to aging family members. Because of its location in the private sphere, home care does not fit comfortably within the existing employment law framework which presupposes a world in which workers leave the confines of their own homes and travel to public workplaces. Home care blurs the boundaries between private and public, home and market, and family and work. Although traditionally dismissed by the law, home care's sheer projected magnitude illustrates the need for policymakers to evaluate how best to regulate home-based work when it occurs in the private setting of the home. This article examines that question by considering the status of home care workers in employment law. The article argues that home care's viability as a decent job is impeded not only by unfavorable working conditions but by a legal system that reinforces the workers' precarious economic position.

Keywords: home-care workers, long-term care, employment law, domestic service, Fair Labor Standard Act, OSH Act, elderly individuals, companionship-services

JEL Classification: Z00

Suggested Citation

Smith, Peggie R., Aging and Caring in the Home: Regulating Paid Domesticity in the Twenty-First Century. Iowa Law Review, Vol. 92, p. 1837, 2007; U Iowa Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-38. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1264067

Peggie R. Smith (Contact Author)

Washington University in Saint Louis - School of Law ( email )

Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

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