Overtime Pay Exemption for Companionship Services Comment Period Ends March 12

Comment Period extended until March 21, 2012.

In 1975, the U. S. Department of Labor (DOL) exempted companions and live-in workers from the requirement for overtime pay.  On December 27, 2011, the DOL published a ‘Notice of Proposed Rulemaking’ to revise the companionship and live-in worker regulations for two purposes:

  • “To more clearly define the tasks that may be performed by an exempt companion and;
  • To limit the companionship exemption to companions employed only by the family or households using the services. Third party employers, such as in-home care staffing agencies, could not claim the exemption, even if the employee is jointly employed by the third party and the family or household.”

The proposed change would remove the exemption and force home health agencies and other long-term care organizations that employ companions to pay time and one-half for any hours worked over 40 in one week. The DOL stated that among the basis for its proposed rule change is that “workers that are employed by in-home care staffing agencies are not the workers that Congress envisioned when it enacted the companionship exemption”. However, critics of the proposed rule fear rising costs and decreased access to services by the elderly who primarily need these workers.

Because of the large number of requests to extend the comment period, the DOL published a notice on February 24, 2012, that it would extend the comment period to March 12, 2012.

The rule-making process allows individuals and organizations to have input into the proposed rule prior to the rule being modified and new regulations imposed. We encourage all individuals and organizations affected by this rule, as it stands now and as it may be modified, to submit written comments on the proposed rule on or before March 12, 2012 at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=WHD-2011-0003-0001.

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