Justice Begins at Home: Extending FLSA Protections to Home Care Workers

Dec 05, 2013

By Lauren French 

The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced that it would be extending the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage and overtime protections to workers who provide home care assistance to older adults and those with illness, injury or disability. This was welcome news for the nearly two million home workers who have long been denied these basic protections that most U.S. workers already enjoy.

To explain how this new rule would be implemented, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) hosted a webinar on December 3 featuring experts in the areas of home care work, employment law, and Medicare programs. The panelists discussed the details of implementing the new regulation and the ways in which it would affect workers and employers.

Cathy Ruckelshaus, General Counsel & Program Director of NELP, explained the history of the so-called companionship exemption. When Congress extended coverage of the Fair Labor Standards Act to domestic services workers in 1974 it created limited exceptions for casual baby sitters and workers providing companionship services for the elderly. However, Department of Labor regulations issued under the law defined the term "companionship services" very broadly to include workers such as certified nursing assistants and health aids. 

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