Home health care workers provide in-home care for the elderly and disabled. These workers often work long hours under stressful conditions, and for 40 years, have been classified as exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act’s “companionship” exemption. President Barack Obama has long advocated for the increase in wages as well as minimum wage and overtime protections for these home health care workers. In recent years, the Obama administration drew up regulations to extend these protections to over two million home health care workers, but the regulations were struck down by a lower court earlier this year.
Last Friday, however, a three-judge appellate court in Washington D.C. ruled that the Labor Department has the authority to eliminate the companionship exemption, thus making home health care workers eligible for minimum wage and overtime pay. These protections would expand to home health care workers who are employed by third-party staffing agencies. Home health care industry officials are reportedly reviewing this decision and considering their options, including Supreme Court review.