As of January 1, 2015, there have been new rules applying to workers in the home health industry. This field has been growing rapidly as the U.S. population ages and health care costs increase. Read an overview here: www.harriswilliams.com Most home health workers are entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay now- and yet, many of these workers are still not being properly compensated.
The changes in the law include more clearly defining what constitutes exempt “companionship” work. Read the Department of Labors Fact Sheet here. Since these changes went into effect, companionship means “fellowship” and “protection”- that is, keeping someone company and making sure they don’t get hurt. The U.S. DOL understands that this work will include some “care”- but again, this term has also been narrowed to assisting with daily tasks such as grooming and eating, and the kind of tasks that allow a person to live independently at home, e.g., laundry and help with medication. In order to be exempt from the FLSA (i.e., not entitled to overtime and minimum wage)- this care work must not take up more than 20% of the worker’s time.
Further, the only employers who can claim this exemption- meaning, the only people who can get out of having to pay any home health worker minimum wage and overtime- are the individual, family, or household using the worker’s services.
What does this mean?
Now, agencies and businesses who send home health workers out into private homes must pay minimum wage and overtime rates, regardless of the work the employee is performing.
Now, no one- no individual, family, or business- can avoid paying minimum wage and overtime to employees spending more than 20% of their time doing care work (light chores, driving, etc.). Also, all employers must pay minimum wage and overtime pay to workers performing more involved work such as physical therapy or injections.
However, live-in employees who are employed solely by the family or individual (that is, NOT an agency) must be paid the minimum wage, but not overtime pay. Read more here.
Have a question about how you’re being paid? Contact the Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore!