Fair Pay for Home Care Workers: Reforming the U.S. Department of Labor’s Companionship Regulations Under the Fair Labor Standards Act

Source: Paul K. Sonn, Catherine K. Ruckelshaus and Sarah Leberstein, National Employment Law Project, August 2011

This policy brief urges the Department of Labor to exercise its broad discretion to restore the companionship exemption to its properly narrow scope, thereby extending wage-and-hour protections to most of our nation’s home care workers. The brief begins by reviewing the history of the companionship exemption. It then explains the impact the current exemption is having on home care jobs, and recommends simple principles that should guide revised regulations. Next it explains why extending minimum wage and overtime coverage to most home care workers is necessary to vindicate FLSA’s policy goals. It concludes with a discussion of the potential cost impact of transitioning to a narrowed companionship exemption.

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