There are over 100,000 businesses employing over 2 million home care workers that provide home care to the elderly, infirm and severely injured or disabled. Since 1975, home health workers were exempt from the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Recognizing that the nature of health care for elderly, ill and disabled patients has, over the years, shifted from hospital or facility to home based, the U.S. Department of Labor implemented a rule that was to be effective on January 1, 2015 that changed this exemption. The new rule eliminated the home healthcare or companionship services exemption for those home health workers who are paid by a third party company. However, the home health industry filed a lawsuit claiming the DOL exceeded its authority and asked the court to prevent the DOL from enforcing the new rule.
In December, 2014, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in the case of Home Care Ass’n of Am. v. Weil, issued an injunction that prevented this rule from taking effect. However, on August 21, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reversed the district court’s ruling and held that the new DOL regulation was effective and should be implemented. The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to stay this ruling, although an appeal to the Supreme Court may still be taken.
This ruling now means that all home health workers who are employed by third party employers and provide any type of in home companionship, health, assistance, or domestic services, or who assist with the physical taking of medications, or medical care, must now be paid overtime for all hours worked over 40. This decision changes the way home health workers are paid that has been in effect for over 40 years.
Many home health workers who work for companies and are not paid directly by patients or families are now entitled to receive unpaid overtime back to January 1, 2015, the date the new regulation was effective. Some companies may start paying overtime now but are not paying past due overtime back to January 1, 2015. Although the DOL will not begin enforcement of the new regulation until 30 days after the Home Care Ass’n of Am. decision is final, there was no ruling delaying the effective date past January 1, 2015. The attorneys at Bohrer Brady, LLC are investigating claims on behalf of home health workers employed by companies to determine whether they are entitled to unpaid overtime. For more information please visit BohrerBrady.com or call 1-800-876-3911.