The U.S. Department of Labor is now enforcing new regulations governing domestic service employees who provide companionship services to individuals due to their age or because they have an illness, injury, or disability. The Fair Labor Standards Act exempts domestic service workers who provided companionship services from its minimum wage and overtime requirements. Feeling that too many employers were unfairly taking advantage of the exemption, the U.S. Department of Labor issued new, more stringent regulations on October 1, 2013, related to the exemption. Those regulations took affect on January 1, 2015, and employers who provide covered companionship services and employees who work for such companies should be aware of the changes.
Highlights of the changes include:
- the activities that qualify as companionship services have been limited to include fellowship, protection, and a limited amount of personal care activities.
- medically related services do not qualify as companionship services.
- the exemption is not available to third-party employers, such as home care staffing agencies, who contract with individuals or other responsible individuals to provide companionship care. It is only available to the individual or other responsible individual who hires the domestic service employee either directly or jointly with a third party. Thus, third-party employers must pay domestic service workers who provided companionship services at least minimum and overtime.
It is important to note that this minimum wage and overtime exemption only applies to domestic service employees who provide companionship services. It does not apply to domestic service workers who provide other services.
For more information about the exemption, including activities that fall within the fellowship, protection, and personal care categories, visit our Domestic Service Employee Companionship Services Exemption page. You can also find information on the U.S Department of Labor’s website.