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California must act now to protect IHSS providers and clients during COVID-19 crisis

As a union of over 116,000 home care providers, we are truly frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic that is sweeping the world and changing all of our daily lives. IHSS providers work in the homes of high-risk individuals—and many of us are high risk ourselves. Many of us can’t “shelter in place”, practice “social distancing” or simply stay at home and wait it out; our clients are depending on us and we can’t afford to go unpaid.

That’s why UDW is responding to this emergency by calling on the state of California to take immediate, direct action to address the needs of the IHSS community. We have reached out to the Governor’s office and asked for the following:

  • Limit the spread of COVID-19 in the IHSS community: Make sure we have the safety and sanitation supplies we need and offering free testing and treatment to all IHSS providers and clients.
  • Continuity of income for IHSS providers: We can’t afford to lose our paychecks in the event that a client or ourselves require quarantine or hospitalization due to COVID-19. The state needs to ensure that we will be paid at our current rate through the crisis.
  • Continuity of care for IHSS clients: It’s clear the COVID-19 pandemic is going to make some of us sick and unable to work. We need to know that every client will have the care they need as soon as they need it. The state needs to build a strong provider backup system in every county. This includes increasing wages to recruit new providers, bypassing criminal background checks for family providers, funding the cost of criminal background checks for new workers and getting new providers enrolled and paid as soon as possible.
  • Authorize extra IHSS hours and suspend timesheet violations for COVID-19 related overtime: We will likely have to be working extra hours to care for our clients during this time, either because their day programs are cancelled or because they are ill. We need to make sure our clients’ needs are met during this time and that we are paid for the work that we do.
  • Ensure ALL IHSS providers have health care, adequate paid sick leave and unemployment insurance: We don’t have the benefits other workers do, but we can’t care for others if we are sick. We need to make sure all providers have access to affordable health coverage, that we will be paid even if we become too sick to work and that ALL of us—including parent and spouse providers—qualify for unemployment insurance if our client enters quarantine, is hospitalized or dies.

And, good news, the state is already listening! As of March 19, the Governor has issued an Executive Order to suspend timesheet violations for COVID-19 related overtime through June!

Governor Gavin Newsom has told the public that IHSS workers are a critical resource right now as we are protecting those most endangered by COVID-19. We thank him for his strong leadership during this unprecedented crisis and ask him to take these immediate actions that will give us the tools to protect ourselves during this crisis.