Effective Jan. 1, 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor’s final rule concerning domestic service workers goes into effect, providing minimum-wage and overtime protection to many workers. The new rule better defines “companionship services” and disallows use of the companionship exemption by third-party employers, such as home health care agencies.
Currently, an employee who works for a home health care company and provides care, fellowship and protection for people who cannot care for themselves due to advanced age or mental infirmity is not guaranteed the minimum wage or overtime pay. After the rule goes into effect, to be exempt a home health care worker must be employed by the individual receiving the companionship services or the individual’s family.
The worker’s duties must be limited to fellowship and protection duties (e.g., conversation, reading, games, crafts, accompanying the person on walks, errands, appointments, or to social events, and monitoring the person’s safety and well-being). Incidental care duties are allowed (e.g., dressing, grooming, feeding, and bathing), provided such duties do not exceed 20 percent of the total hours worked.
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