Personal care assistant (PCA) workers in Minnesota will see higher wages and other new benefits, starting October 1. The statewide minimum wage for PCAs rose from $13.25 to $14.40 per hour effective Oct. 1, then increases again to $15.25 on July 1, 2022.
The move was celebrated around the state and came after years of work at the capitol. The pay increase is the result of an agreement reached during the 2021 legislative session between the state and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which was recently granted federal approval. There were fears among some disability rights activists that the agreement and wage increase wouldn’t get federal approval in time to start October 1.
PCAs preform essential work, helping people with disabilities with daily activities such as eating, bathing, dressing, grooming, going to the restroom, and getting around. In some cases, they prepare meals, do light housekeeping, administer medications, help people find jobs, manage challenging behaviors, and provide support with assistive technology.
The agreement will help address a variety of challenges facing PCAs and the organizations that manage their work, challenges which have led to a PCA workforce shortage. One point disability rights advocates have raised is that their staff members can get paid more working fast food or other jobs.
“The more than 40,000 PCAs working in our state are a lifeline for people with disabilities and essential for them to live active lives in their communities,” said Human Services Assistant Commissioner Gertrude Matemba-Mutasa. “We hope improved pay and benefits can help draw more talented people into this critical profession.”
“Personal care assistants help Minnesotans with disabilities live fulfilling and independent lives, and I’ve had the privilege of seeing firsthand just how hard that work can be,” said Gov. Tim Walz. “The Minnesotans who dedicate their lives to this important work are heroes, and I am proud that this wage increase helps recognize the vital role they play in the lives of people across the state.”
“Thousands of Minnesotans with disabilities rely on personal care assistants to maintain their in-home services and quality of life,” said Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. “This wage increase recognizes the hard work of PCAs, helps ensure that this essential work is sustainable for workers, and keeps these services accessible to those who need them.”
In addition to the pay increase, changes include:
• One hour of paid time off for every 30 hours an individual provider works;
• An increase in the number of paid holidays from five to seven; and
• Funding for the Minnesota Department of Human Services to continue working with SEIU on voluntary training opportunities.
The agreement also increases budgets for Minnesotans who participate in the consumer-directed community supports program that enables them to design the services and supports that fit their needs and hire their own PCAs and for the Consumer Support Grant program, which is an alternative to Medical Assistance for some Minnesota residents.
SEIU doesn’t represent all PCAs, but federal requirements do not allow differential payment rates based on union membership, so the rate increases apply to all PCAs and providers.