Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor announced significant new changes to its regulations regarding who is a “domestic worker” and therefore subject to the coverage of the federal laws regarding overtime and the like.
Today’s announcement extends minimum wage and overtime protections to all direct care workers employed by home care agencies and other third parties. Fifteen states already extend state minimum wage and overtime protections to direct care workers, and an additional six states and the District of Columbia mandate state minimum wage protections.
“The department carefully considered the comments received from individuals who receive home care, workers, third-party employers and administrators of state programs that support home care,” said Laura Fortman, the principal deputy administrator of the Wage and Hour Division, the agency that administers and enforces the FLSA. “In response, the final rule provides increased flexibility, and gives programs sufficient time to make any needed adjustments. Together these changes will allow the rule to better meet consumers’ needs while better protecting direct care workers.”
The final rule also 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 the minimum wage and overtime. And, in accordance with Congress’ initial intent, individual workers who are employed only by the person receiving services or that person’s family or household and engaged primarily in fellowship and protection (providing company, visiting or engaging in hobbies) and care incidental to such activities, will still be considered exempt from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime protections.
But before employers make massive changes immediately, it’s important to note that the rule will be effective Jan. 1, 2015.
Already some blogs are providing the bare basics on the blogs, but these rules will take some time to digest. If you are in this “space”, you would likely be best served by going to your employment law counsel for ways that you can comply with the new final rules.
The USDOL has published lots of resources on the subject as well, which you can find here.