Wednesday, September 18, 2013

DOL expands wage and hour laws to home care workers

Do you employ home health aides, personal care aides, or certified nursing assistants? Do you pay them less than the minimum wage, or less than time-and-a-half for any hours worked in excess of 40 in a week? If you answered “yes” to both of these questions, then you will need to make a big change to your pay practices beginning January 1, 2015.

Yesterday, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division released its final rule [pdf] extending minimum wage and overtime protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act to home care workers.

Beginning January 1, 2015, third-party employers (such as home-care staffing agencies) will no longer be entitled to claim that home care workers are exempt under the FLSA’s companionship services or live-in domestic service exemptions.

Steven Greenhouse, writing in the New York Times (hat tip: Workplace Prof Blog), did a great job summarizing this new rule:

Under the new rule, any home care aides hired through home care companies or other third-party agencies cannot be exempt from minimum wage and overtime coverage. The exemptions for aides who mainly provide “companionship services”—defined as fellowship and protection for an elderly person or person with an illness, injury or disability who requires assistance—are limited to the individual, family or household using the services.

If an aide or companion provides “care” that exceeds 20 percent of the total hours he or she works each week, then the worker is to receive minimum wage and overtime protections.

In support of this change, the DOL has published various resources—including a Home Care web portal, a FAQ, various fact sheets, and interactive web tools—which are worth your time reading if you think you employ workers covered by this new rule.