What We Owe Workers in Health Care Earning Low Wages

If you’re a professional caregiver in the US with colleagues paid a minimum wage, their labor is valued so little that it would be a crime to pay them less. The US Federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 requires employers under its jurisdiction to pay workers at least a federal minimum wage. Yet in most of the US, a living wage is at least twice that amount. Privation, risk of injury and illness, uninsurance, and underinsurance undermine equity for health aides, environmental services workers, nursing and medical assistants, paramedics, and their children in the US. This theme issue investigates what we—as citizens, clinicians of status, and organizations—owe these vulnerable workers, on whose hour-to-hour care of some of our most vulnerable patients we heavily rely and woefully undervalue.

Volume 24, Number 9: E817-912 Full Issue PDF