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New Resources Dispel Myths and Clarify the Proposed “Companionship Exemption” Rule

January 26, 2012

The 60-day public comment period on the U.S. Department of Labor‘s (DOL) proposed rule to revise the “companionship exemption” has hit the midpoint.

Since the DOL launched the comment period in late December, critics of the proposed regulations have made numerous assertions regarding the negative impact of providing minimum wage and time-and-a-half pay for overtime for home care aides.

Concerned that these assertions exaggerate the costs associated with the rule change, PHI has released “Fixing the Companionship Exemption: Myths and Facts” (pdf), the fourth fact sheet in the Value the Care series on how narrowing the companionship exemption would affect home care workers, consumers, and employers.

Setting it Straight

The fact sheet sets straight an array of misconceptions, including how revising the companionship exemption would affect workers’ hours, costs for consumers and employers, and quality of care.

For example, the fact sheet tackles the myth that home come workers’ hours will be reduced because employers will limit work weeks to 40 hours rather than pay a worker time and a half.

In fact, less than 10 percent of aides regularly work more than 40 hours a week. Nearly half of home care workers work only part time, and 40 percent of these aides would like to work more hours. Though some aides who are working very long hours may be affected by the change, the good news is that more aides may be able to increase their hours.

FAQs

Additionally, to help address commonly asked questions about the companionship exemption, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) updated its Frequently Asked Questions (pdf) after the proposed regulations were released.

The new FAQ clarifies, for example, what group of workers would be affected by the proposed changes, the DOL’s proposed changes to the definition of companionship services, and how the proposed changes would improve conditions in the industry.

To submit an official comment to the DOL before the comment period ends on February 27, read sample comments, and see other resources, including the Value the Care series, visit the PHI Campaign for Fair Pay website.

— by Deane Beebe

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