This past Wednesday marked the deadline to comment on the Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed rule to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to cover home health care workers.
Despite providing protections for nearly all U.S. employees who work for a wage, including ensuring workers receive minimum wage and overtime, a long-standing loophole has excluded “companionship” workers from receiving these protections.
When the act was approved, the exemptions were meant to apply to casual babysitters and companions for the elderly and sick, not workers whose primary job is providing home care. In 1974, Congress extended these wage protections (it did not include overtime however) to domestic workers but did not include “companions” for the elderly.
Currently, an estimated 2.5 million individuals work as home health care providers/personal assistants and stand to benefit from the amendment. The number of home health care providers is expected to significantly increase, as the U.S. population ages. If you have any wage and hour questions or are concerned that you are not receiving the pay that you deserve, it is important that you consult with an experienced Georgia wage and hour law firm to ensure your rights to fair pay are protected.
The currently proposed rule would extend the federal minimum wage and overtime protections to currently excluded home care workers--who are disproportionately female and of color. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis notes, "The care provided by in-home workers is crucial to the quality of life for many families … The vast majority of these workers are women, many of whom serve as the primary breadwinner for their families. This proposed regulation would ensure that their work is properly classified so they receive appropriate compensation and that employers who have been treating these workers fairly are no longer at a competitive disadvantage.”