UDW caregivers and caregivers from SEIU 2015 were in Los Angeles yesterday to demand answers and action from the state. During a Senate Human Services oversight hearing at City Hall, we voiced our concerns and frustrations with the current outdated and cumbersome IHSS payroll system. Home care providers and recipients made the case for fixing the process once and for all.
“Inconsistency is the problem,” testified Claire Kaufman, an IHSS provider for her daughter in El Dorado County. “Not knowing how much I will be paid next time I send in a timesheet, or if I will be paid at all is the problem.”
This year, the State announced an electronic timesheet option would be offered in 2017. While this is a great step in the right direction, it was critical that we demand reforms to the paper timesheet process during the hearing.
Cynthia Wilson, an IHSS provider from Madera County, was evicted from her home in January because she didn’t receive a paycheck from October to December of last year. Cynthia and her 14-year-old grandson were forced to sleep in her car while she worked to afford and find a new apartment with an eviction on her record.
“I was finally able to save up enough to rent a house for me and my grandson,” said Cynthia during her testimony. “Things worked out this time, but I worry about the next time this happens. Many IHSS caregivers like me are just one late paycheck away from homelessness.”
Unfortunately, Cynthia’s story is not unique. Too many IHSS providers have felt the negative impact of waiting for a delayed paycheck or timesheet. Many of us know what it’s like to get behind on our bills or have to pay late fees, because our checks arrive days, weeks, or months later than expected.
Lizet Ibarra and her mother work as providers for Lizet’s younger sister in Orange County. Lizet attended the hearing to advocate for her mom who stayed home to care for her sister. “For the past year and a half my mom’s checks have been delayed 15 to 20 days,” said Lizet. “That puts my mom in a hardship with her HOA fees, late charge fees, and mortgage fees. In the past two months she has not received one check. This is what gets me more agitated.”
Senator Mike McGuire, Senator Connie Leyva, and Senator Richard Roth listened to our stories, and then questioned representatives from the Department of Social Services about the current payroll process. “Making sure people are paid for the work that they do is fundamental,” said Senator Leyva.
Senator McGuire was concerned about the amount of providers who deal with paycheck delays each month. “No private employer would be allowed to delay pay for employees,” he said. “The state can’t be delaying checks to 14,000 IHSS providers.”
Our union is committed to working with the State to update the payroll process. “The payroll system for IHSS providers is rife with problems and unacceptable in its current state,” said UDW Legislative Director Kristina Bas Hamilton. “We proposed a number of recommendations – some are sweeping in scope while others are simpler, common sense “fixes” – that we believe will go a long way to make the system more efficient.”
Among our suggestions were switching from semimonthly to biweekly pay periods, and allowing providers to download our timesheets to cut down on the time spent waiting for them to arrive via mail.
During her testimony, Claire Kaufman who has experienced late or incorrect paychecks three times in the last year, aptly summed up the importance of fixing the payroll system. “We work hard for our clients,” she said. “Like any other workers, we need timely and correct paychecks. Our families can’t afford anything less, and we don’t deserve anything less.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2016
Contacts: Margitte Kristjansson, 619-548-4304 (English) | Melissa Uribe, 213-590-9091 (English / Spanish)
Home care workers testified at Senate Human Services Oversight Hearing in Los Angeles today, in effort to seek changes to the State Payroll Processing System
Los Angeles, CA – In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) providers and allies from throughout the state testified today at the Senate Human Services Oversight Hearing regarding continued issues with the state payroll and timesheet processing system, which have resulted in late paychecks and delayed timesheets for caregivers.
With the state’s population rapidly aging, the demand for home care providers continues to grow. According to the California Public Policy Institute, California’s senior population – those 65 and older – will nearly double in the next 15 years. Yet despite the importance and need for this work, the over 460,000 home care workers who provide services through California’s In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) are all too often paid late or incorrectly.
“This year, I was evicted from my home along with my grandson, because of late IHSS timesheets and paychecks,” said Cynthia Wilson, IHSS provider and UDW member from Madera County. “Things worked out this time, but I worry about the next time this happens. Many IHSS caregivers like me are just one late paycheck away from homelessness.”
“For the last two months, I’ve basically been working for free. My rent is a month past due and I can barely afford to make my car payment” said Magdalena Alvarado, IHSS provider and SEIU Local 2015 member from Los Angeles County. “For the last two months, I’ve simply been asked to wait while my situation is sorted out. Well, while I wait my care recipient still needs to be taken to her doctor appointments, fed, and bathed.”
“The payroll system for IHSS providers is rife with problems and unacceptable in its current state,” said UDW’s Legislative Director, Kristina Bas Hamilton. “Today we proposed a number of recommendations – some are sweeping in scope while others are simpler, common sense “fixes” – that we believe will go a long way to make the system more efficient.”
Some of the proposed fixes include a switch to biweekly pay periods (instead of semimonthly) to make it easier for workers to comply with new overtime rules, as well as allowing workers to download their timesheets to reduce the time they have to wait to receive them via mail.
View member testimonies here.
About UDW; United Domestic Workers of America (UDW)/AFSCME Local 3930 is a home care union made up of nearly 94,000 in-home caregivers across the state of California. UDW caregivers provide care through the state’s In-Home Supportive Services program (IHSS), which allows over half a million California seniors and people with disabilities to stay safe and healthy at home.
About SEIU Local 2015: With representational responsibility for over 325,000 home care and nursing home workers, SEIU Local 2015 is the biggest long term care union in California. It is our mission to unleash the collective power of long term care workers, their families, and their communities, harness the power of technology, and build a broad movement to disrupt the unjust status quo in order to bring lasting transformational change towards a more just society for all.
When Madera County caregiver Cynthia Wilson’s IHSS paycheck didn’t arrive on time in January, she and her grandson lost their apartment.
Thankfully, they were able to turn to friends and neighbors for help, but since then she has been terrified that another late paycheck or unexpected expense could leave her homeless again. And that worry increases exponentially when Cynthia thinks about retirement, because like many IHSS providers, Cynthia has no retirement benefits or savings.
“I’m 62,” said Cynthia. “If I work until I’m 70, I might get about $1,200 a month from Social Security, but that’s not set in stone either.”
Cynthia shares a worry that many UDW caregivers who are eligible to pay into social security can understand: will it be enough when we retire? “I’m scared that it won’t be, and my grandson and I could end up homeless again,” she said. I’m raising him now, so whatever affects me affects him. If I can’t buy food, he can’t eat. If I can’t pay the electricity bill, he sits in the dark with me.”
If passed by the state legislature and signed into law by the governor, Senate Bill 1234 would implement the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program on January 1, 2017. This program would provide workers – including all IHSS providers once it’s determined to be legally permissible under state and federal laws- with the opportunity to contribute a small percentage of their wages towards their own retirement savings account. There will be no employer match but this is an important first step toward easing some of the worries about the future that caregivers like Cynthia live with every day. And IHSS providers are not alone: about 7.5 million workers in California lack access to a retirement savings program, and three out of five families with a head-of-household that is 65 or older have no retirement money saved.
“Being able to actually put money aside for retirement would give me a little extra,” said Cynthia. “I don’t want to have to rely on food stamps and other public assistance. I want to feel secure, and at least able to take care of my basic needs.”
Kady Crick, an IHSS provider from Riverside County, echoed Cynthia’s feelings. “I’ll be 61 this year. I want to know I have a cushion besides Social Security when I retire,” she said. “This program would give my husband and me more comfort for the future, because Social Security may not be enough.”
SB 1234 currently includes IHSS providers, and if we are determined to be eligible for the program, the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program will help IHSS caregivers take control of our financial future, so we can retire with dignity.
And we’re still working to secure basic retirement benefits like Social Security and Medicare for parent and spouse IHSS providers. Read more here: http://www.udwa.org/2016/05/help-caregivers-win-social-security-medicare/.