RULE IN EFFECT! - As of January 1, 2016, the DOL rule extending federal wage protections to the nation's 2 million home care workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is being fully enforced by the DOL. For the first time, home care workers are entitled to the federal minimum wage, time-and-a-half pay for overtime, and pay for time spent traveling between clients.
Why Fair Pay is Important
Good for Workers
The extension of labor protections is an important step in recognizing home care as professional work that is essential to the future of our nation.
Good for Women
The home care workforce is 90% women--many supporting families on what they earn. They benefit directly from the security that these labor protections bring.
Good for America
More workers are needed for home care than for any other job in America. Better jobs will make it easier to recruit and retain good workers.
- U.S. Department of Labor Home Care Rule: What's Next? (pdf) - An issue brief designed to help stakeholders with implementation.
- Five Steps to Implementing the New Federal Home Care Rule - Recommends ways that New York State policymakers can ensure smooth implementation.
- Action Steps for Consumers and Advocates Regarding the New Home Care Rule (pdf) - A guide to preventing service cuts and protecting consumer-directed programs from the Bazelon Center
- FLSA Home Care Rule Toolkit - Helps stakeholders understand, assess the impact of, and prepare to implement the new regulations. From the National Resource Center for Participant-Directed Services.
- Home Care Workers: Know Your Rights - Helps workers understand how their jobs are affected by the new regulations. From the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
DOL and Other Federal Publications
- A DOL letter to state governors encouraging them to prepare for compliance.
- A notice on the DOL website announcing the rule is effective October 13 and enforcement begins November 12.
- A letter from the Departments of Justice and Health & Human Rights emphasizing compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act
- The Wage and Hour Division has a section of their website devoted to the new rule
- A series of official fact sheets provide more details on various aspects of the rule
- The text of the final rule as published in the Federal Register
Facts About the Revised FLSA
FLSA Facts: Understanding the Revised Companionship Exemption -- This fact sheet outlines the primary provisions of the revised regulation, explains which workers will and will not be newly eligible for minimum wage and overtime protections, and examines how the revision will affect consumer-directed programs.
After Decades of Exclusion, Victory for Home Care Workers -- This fact sheet from the National Council of La Raza explains the new wage rights to which home care workers are entitled. It also provides background on the home care workforce and explains why they were excluded from basic wage protections for so long.
MAP: The Expansion of Labor Protections by State
A map showing how the expansion of minimum wage and overtime laws to home care workers impacts each state.
Reports & Fact Sheets
- FLSA Facts No. 2: Growing Home Care Industry Can Afford Basic Labor Protections
- Home Care: How Poverty Wages Undermine Care
- The National Employment Law Project (NELP) has issued a fact sheet explaining the new rule (pdf)
- DATA BRIEF: Institutionalization Rates in States that Extend Minimum Wage and Overtime Protection to Home Care Workers
- DATA BRIEF: Michigan Home Care Industry Growth Before and After Extending Labor Protections to Home Care Aides
- Guide to US Home Care Workforce. Using the best data and research evidence available, this national report presents the most complete picture possible of America’s home care and personal assistance workforce.
- Can home care companies manage overtime hours? (pdf). Examines three successful models.
- Comparing Cost of Personal Care Services and Caregiver Pay (pdf). Providers take in about twice as much as workers.
- Caring for Caregivers: Latinos in the Direct-Care Workforce (pdf) Overview of Latinos in the direct-care industry and how the companionship exemption affects conditions for these workers.
- FACTS 5: Home Care Aides at a Glance (pdf): Facts about the home care workforce
January 1 - The DOL begins full enforcement of the new rule.
November 12 through December 31 - The second phase of the time-limited non-enforcement policy by the DOL, during which it will exercise prosecutorial discretion in determining whether to bring enforcement actions.
October 13 - The new rule became effective, but will not be enforced for 30 days.
October 6 - US Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts denied a request to stay the appeals court decision.
August 21 - The federal appeals court issued an opinion upholding the Department of Labor's rule extending minimum wage and overtime to home care workers.
May 7 - A hearing took place before the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.
January 27 - An expedited appeal filed by the DOL was accepted by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
January 14 - Judge Leon issued an opinion vacating the new rule on the grounds that the DOL did not have the authority to alter the rule without Congressional input.
January 1 - A two-week stay delaying implementation of the rule extending minimum wage and overtime to home care workers was put into effect by US District Court Judge Richard Leon.
December 22 - The federal district judge in Home Care Association of America v. Weil vacated the third party regulation included in the new rule. The ruling would allow home care agencies and other third-party employers to continue to avoid paying minimum wage and overtime to workers who provide companionship services. However, the decision left the narrowed definition of companionship in place.
October 7 - The DOL announced that a non-enforcement policy will be in place for the first six months of implementation. During this time period (Jan 1 - Jun 30, 2015), the DOL will not bring enforcement actions against any employer for violations of FLSA obligations resulting from the amended regulations. In the following six months (Jul 1 - Dec 31, 2015), the DOL will exercise prosecutorial discretion in determining whether to bring enforcement actions.
October 1 - The final rule was published in the Federal Register. Home care workers will be covered by minimum wage and overtime starting on January 1, 2015.
September 17 - The DOL announced that the rule had been finalized.
January - The draft rule was sent to the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) for final review.
March 21 - The comment period on the proposed rule, after being extended twice, closed. At least three quarters of the 26,000 comments support DOL's efforts to change the rule.
December 27 - The US Department of Labor (DOL) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would end the exclusion of home care workers from minimum wage and overtime protections.
The US Supreme Court, in a case brought by New York home care attendant Evelyn Coke, upholds the DOL’s authority to define exceptions to FLSA.
The Clinton DOL finds that “significant changes in the home care industry” have occurred and issues a “notice of proposed rulemaking” that would have made important changes to the exemption. The revision process is terminated, however, by the incoming Bush Administration.
The Department of Labor interprets the “companionship exemption” as including all direct-care workers in the home, even those employed by third parties such as home care agencies.
The FLSA is amended to include domestic employees such as housekeepers, full-time nannies, chauffeurs, and cleaners. However, persons employed as "companions to the elderly or infirm” remain excluded from the law.
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is enacted to ensure a minimum standard of living for workers through the provision of a minimum wage, overtime pay, and other protections -- but domestic workers are excluded.
PHI Director of Communications
Why Home Care Workers Struggle With Low Wages
March 16, 2015 - PBS Newshour - With most aging Americans wanting to stay in their own homes, the need for in-home caregivers is skyrocketing. But unlike most other jobs, there's no federal guarantee that these workers get minimum wage or overtime.
Will Obama let down the left again?
October 1, 2014 - Krystal Clear original reporting - The Obama Administration weighs postponing a promised increase in wages for home care workers.
Krystal Ball: Home care workers are slipping through the cracks
September 30, 2014 - Krystall Ball notes that President Obama may be set to disappoint a major part of the Democratic coalition by delaying overtime protections to home care workers.
Biden: Home Care Workers Deserve Minimum Wage and Overtime
June 25, 2013 - Vice-President Biden, speaking on the 75th anniversary of the Fair Labor Standards Act, discusses the Administration's plans to honor its pledge to stop excluding home care workers from federal minimum wage and overtime protections. Shares personal story of employing caregivers for his mom.
MSNBC's Steve Kornacki on Home Care Workers' Lack of Federal Labor Protections
June 22, 2013 - Examines the political history that led to home care workers being excluded from federal minimum wage and overtime.
President Obama Announces Home Care Rule Change
December 15, 2011 - In this announcement, President Obama declares his support for a new DOL rule that would end the "companionship exemption": a DOL ruling that excludes home care workers from minimum wage and overtime.
Walk a Day in My Shoes: Barack Obama
In 2007, Senator Obama spent a day working alongside homecare worker Pauline Beck of Alameda, California, a mother of six children who earns $10.50 an hour and gets no sick time, overtime, or vacation pay.
We Can't Wait: Pauline Beck
In 2007, then-Senator Barack Obama spent a day with Pauline Beck, a homecare worker. He worked alongside her, getting to know the daily life and concerns of a homecare worker. Now, as President, he has taken action that will require homecare workers recieve at least a minimum wage and overtime protections - which many were previously exempt from.
Evelyn Coke Tribute Video
Home care worker Evelyn Coke brought her fight for fair pay all the way to the Supreme Court. PHI released this video on the first anniversary of her passing.
She loved the work, but she earned only around $7 an hour and got no overtime pay. For years Ms. Coke, a single mother of five, quietly grumbled, and then, quite uncharacteristically, rebelled. (New York Times)