DOL Delays Enforcement of Home Health Care Final Rule

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced on October 7 that it would delay its enforcement of the home health care final rule changes aimed at bringing companions and live-in domestic service workers within the scope of employees who are entitled to minimum wage and overtime.

Currently, companion employees and live-in domestic service employees whose work entails certain defined duties are exempt from both minimum wage and overtime obligations or from overtime only. The DOL issued a proposed rule in late 2013 explaining that third-party employers would no longer be able to use either exemption as of January 1, 2015. And, if the companion or live-in domestic service employee works for an individual or family, the duties requirements for the exemptions were also narrowed.

The DOL’s delay only applies to its enforcement of the final rule and not to the applicability of the rule on the home health care industry. Instead of enforcing the final rule as of January 1, the DOL instead will roll out its enforcement in two phases. First, from January 1, 2015 through June 30, 2015, the DOL will not enforce the final rule’s requirements as applied to companion or live-in domestic service employees. Then, from July 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015, the DOL says that it will “exercise its discretion” in its enforcement efforts. Presumably, the DOL will initiate some actions to enforce the final rule during the second half of 2015. Further, nothing in the DOL’s delay announcement precludes individual employees from bringing actions against employers because the DOL did not delay implementation of the final rule.

Organizations that employ either companions or live-in domestic service workers should continue preparing to comply with the final rule as of January 1. The DOL will take into consideration organizations’ “good faith” attempts to comply with the rule when evaluating whether to bring an enforcement action between July and December 2015. Under the final rule, all companion or live-in domestic service workers employed by third-party employers must be paid at least minimum wage and overtime as of January 1, 2015.