The comment period has recently closed on a proposed rule to to revise federal wage and hour regulations to extend minimum wage and overtime pay to approximately 1.8 million workers providing home health care services for individuals who, because of age or infirmity, are unable to care for their own needs.
Currently, minimum wage and overtime pay requirements do not apply to workers employed directly by households in domestic service. However, these requirements do apply to domestic workers employed by businesses, even if their work is in private households. Changes in the long-term in-home care industry have caused the Department of Labor to believe that the exemption for workers employed directly in households should be revisited.
The proposed rule would more clearly define the tasks that may be performed by an exempt companion. The definition of companionship services will be limited to fellowship and protection. Examples of fellowship and protection activities may include: playing cards, watching television, visiting with friends and neighbors, taking walks, or engaging in hobbies.
The proposed rule would also limit the exemption to companions employed only by the family or household using the services. Third party employers, such as health care staffing agencies, could not claim the exemption, even if the employee is jointly employed by the third party and the family or household.
The proposed rule has not yet been finalized. The Department of Labor will review comments received and may change the proposed rule. For more information on how this proposed rule may impact your business or employees, please contact an MSEC staff attorney.