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Federal District Court to Issue Decision on DOL Home Care Rule

January 13, 2015

Judge Richard Leon of the D.C. federal district court will hold another hearing in Home Care Association of America v. Weil on Wednesday, January 14, to inform the parties of his decision on the revised definition of “companionship” in the U.S. Department of Labor Home Care Final Rule.

Following his December 22 ruling vacating part of the U.S. Department of Labor Home Care Final Rule and his Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued on December 31, Leon heard new arguments in the case on January 9.

The January 9 hearing concerned the merits of a new — and much narrower — definition of companionship, which was scheduled to go into effect on January 1, but under the TRO is on hold until January 15.

The U.S. Department of Labor Home Care Final Rule stipulates that the companionship exemption of the Fair Labor Standards Act applies only to workers who are engaged in “fellowship and protection.” Workers who spend more than 20 percent of their time on housecleaning, cooking, or personal care tasks (such as bathing, dressing, or toileting) would not be exempt from federal minimum wage and overtime rules under this new rule.

If the narrower definition of companionship goes into effect, most home care aides will be covered by the new rule, making them eligible for minimum wage and overtime protections.

In its statement regarding the hearing, the U.S. Department of Labor said:

The Department believes the Final Rule’s extension of minimum wage and overtime protections to most home care workers is legally sound and is the right policy — both for those employees, whose demanding work merits these fundamental wage guarantees, and for recipients of services, who deserve a stable and professional workforce allowing them to remain in their homes and communities.

— by Karen Kahn, PHI Director of Communications

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