New Wage Protection for In-Home Caregivers

Many of our disabled and elderly friends and neighbors rely on in-home caregivers to allow them to continue living independently in their homes. Under the Department of Labor’s 1975 regulations, people who provided this in-home support were often excluded from minimum wage and overtime regulations. But effective January 1, 2015, these regulations will change to provide much more protection to domestic service employees providing companionship services.

Beginning January 1, 2015, companions will be exempt from minimum wage and overtime payments only if:

  • Their job duties are primarily fellowship (engaging the client in social, physical or mental activities such as playing games, doing crafts, taking a walk, and running errands) and protection (being with the client at home or in the community to monitor his safety and well-being).

and

  • The companion provides “care” such as assisting the client with bathing, grooming, and feeding or preparing meals, engaging in light housework, managing finances and arranging medical care, less than 20% of the total hours worked per week.

If the companion provides “care” type assistance more than 20% of the total hours worked in a week, he or she must be paid at least minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime for all hours worked over 40 in that work week.

If the companion engages in work that is for the benefit of other members of the household, such as preparing dinner for the family or doing the laundry of others in the home, the exemption is lost and the companion must be paid minimum wage and overtime (if she worked more than 40 hours) for all hours worked that work week. The exemption is lost even if the work for the family is just a small part of the total hours worked.

If the companion provides any medically related services (services typically performed by someone with additional training, including tube feeding, catheter care, or treating bedsores), the exemption is also lost for the entire work week.

Finally, the exemption only applies when the individual, family or household hires the companion. If the companion is employed by a third-party provider, like a home care staffing agency, then the exemption does not apply and the companion must be paid at least minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime for all hours worked over 40 in a work week.

Craig Henry PLC supports the Department of Labor’s decision to broaden the coverage of the Fair Labor Standards Act to protect domestic service workers. If you have questions about whether you are entitled to minimum wage or overtime pay under these new regulations, we are happy to walk you through the analysis.

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