In a News Release Sept. 17, 2013, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced a final rule, effective Jan. 1, 2015, extending the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime protections to most workers who provide essential home care assistance to elderly people and people with illnesses, injuries, or disabilities.
Direct care workers (certified nursing assistants, home health aides, personal care aides, etc.) are critical to ensuring our aging citizens can remain healthy and independent in their communities and in their homes. As more and more Americans choose to stay at home instead of opting for nursing homes or other facilities, the demand for home care continues to grow. And yet, the DOL reports that “…direct care workers remain among the lowest paid in the service industry. There are an estimated 1.9 million direct care workers in the U.S., with nearly all currently employed by home care agencies. Approximately 90 percent of direct care workers are women, and nearly 50 percent are minorities.”
In addition to extending minimum wage and overtime protections to direct care workers, the final rule
- Narrows the duties that fall within the definition of exempt “companionship services.”
- Provides that agencies and third-party employers, such as home care agencies, may no longer claim the overtime pay exemption for live-in domestic service workers.
- Clarifies that direct care workers who perform medically-related services for which training is typically a prerequisite are not companionship workers and therefore are entitled to minimum wage and overtime.