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December 3, 2014


The US Department of Labor’s Final Rule concerning domestic service workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is effective January 1, 2015. It brings important minimum wage and overtime protection to the many homecare workers. The Final Rule contains several significant changes from the prior regulations, including: (1) the tasks that comprise “companionship services” are more clearly defined; and (2) the exemptions for companionship services and live-in domestic service employees are limited to the individual, family, or household using the services; and (3) the recordkeeping requirements for employers of live-in domestic service employees are revised.  Most significantly, the Department is revising the definition of “companionship services” to clarify and narrow the duties that fall within the term and is prohibiting third-party employers, such as home care agencies, from claiming the companionship or live-in exemptions.


Under the Final Rule, the term “companionship services” means the provision of fellowship and protection for an elderly person or person with an illness, injury, or disability who requires assistance in caring for himself or herself. “Companionship services” includes the provision of “care” if the care is provided attendant to and in conjunction with the provision of fellowship and protection and if it does not exceed 20 percent of the total hours worked per person and per workweek.


Live-in domestic service workers who reside in the employer’s home permanently or for an extended period of time and are employed by an individual, family, or household are exempt from overtime pay, although they must be paid at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked. Live-in domestic service workers who are solely or jointly employed by a third party must be paid at least the federal minimum wage and overtime pay for all hours worked by that third party employer.


The major effect of this Final Rule is that more homecare workers will be protected by the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime provisions. Many homecare agencies, Connecticut Community Care, Inc., Connecticut Dept. of Social Services and the Area Agencies on Aging are concerned that these new rules will make the cost of homecare too expensive for families.


For more on these changes affecting home care, click on the following Fact Sheet from the US Dept. of Labor.