On August 21, 2015, in Home Care Association of America v. Weil, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit cleared the way for the implementation of regulations extending the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (“FLSA’s”) minimum wage and overtime provisions to many home care workers. The court rejected a challenge to the United States Department of Labor’s (“DOL’s”) authority to change its interpretation of the scope of the FLSA provisions exempting from minimum wage and overtime guarantees domestic-service workers who provide either companionship services or live-in care for the elderly, ill, or disabled. The court’s ruling directly affects home care workers who are employed by third-party providers, like home health care agencies.
For four decades, the DOL interpreted the FLSA’s exemptions for companionship services and live-in workers to apply to employees of third-party providers. The old regulations specifically stated that domestic workers, who were employed “by an employer other than the family or household using their services,” were not included in the FLSA’s protections. Thus, traditionally, those workers have not been eligible for Continue reading →
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia struck down the U.S. Department of Labor’s regulations concerning the companionship services exemption to the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). SeeHome Care Association of America v. Weil, No. 14-cv-967 (D.D.C. 2014). Under the FLSA, providers of home care services employed by a third party are deemed to fall within the FLSA’s domestic employee and/or companionship services exemptions. However, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division issued a Final Rule with an effective date of January 1, 2015 (but not to be enforced until July 1, 2015) effectively eliminating this exemption by revising the definition of “companionship services” and subjecting third-party providers to minimum wage and overtime requirements imposed by the FLSA.
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice, Home Care Association of America, and the International Franchise Association brought an action challenging the Final Rule under the Administrative Procedure Act arguing that the rule was arbitrary and capricious, and inconsistent with Congress’ intent. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed the rule would “have a destabilizing impact on Continue reading →
The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced that it was filing a notice of proposed rule-making regarding its regulations pertaining to the exemption for companionship services and live-in domestic services.
Section 13(a)(15) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) exempts from the minimum wage and overtime provisions domestic service employees who are employed “to provide companionship services for individuals who (because of age or infirmity) are unable to care for themselves (as such terms are defined and delimited by regulations of the Secretary).” Section 13(b)(21) of the law also exempts from the overtime provision any employee employed “in domestic service in a household and who resides in such household.”
These FLSA exemptions, enacted in 1974, were later complimented by Labor Department-promulgated regulations in 1975. Those regulations have not been amended or changed since 1975. Since that time, the Department notes that there have been “significant changes in the home health care industry” and “workers who today provide in-home care to individuals are performing duties and working in circumstances that were not envisioned when the companionship services regulations were promulgated.” It also noted that the “number of workers providing these services has also greatly increased, and a significant number of these workers are being excluded from the minimum wage and overtime protections of the FLSA under the companionship services exemption.” Therefore, the Labor Department decided to reduce the scope of the exemption by amending its regulations to revise the definitions of “domestic service employment” and “companionship services.” The Department also proposed to clarify the type of activities and duties that may be considered “incidental” to the provision of companionship services.
Additionally, the Department proposed to amend the record-keeping requirements for live-in domestic workers. Finally, the Department proposed to amend the regulation pertaining to employment by a third party of companions and live-in domestic workers.
These changes would continue to allow the individual, family, or household directly employing the worker’s services to apply the companionship and live-in exemptions but would deny all third party employers of such workers the use of the exemptions.
Comments on the proposed changes to the regulations must be received by the Labor Department on or before February 27, 2012.
The notice of proposed rule-making may be viewed at: