The United States Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division’s new ruling brings important minimum wage and overtime protection to workers who care for individuals (referred to as “consumers” in the law) in their homes who are suffering from injuries, illnesses or disabilities.
Previous to this new ruling, which went into effect in January 2015, workers who provided companionship services as part of their duties in caring for the elderly, disable and injured, were not eligible for the minimum wage and overtime protections of the FLSA. Now workers who provide companionship services will be eligible to earn at least the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 per hour.
Companionship Services explained
The revised ruling also amends and clarifies what duties comprise “companionship services.” The new law extends minimum wage and overtime protections to approximately 2 million health care workers who care for the elderly and injured people in their homes.
This change takes into consideration how much the home care industry has grown over several decades, and the fact that more Americans opt to receive long-term care in their homes instead of in nursing homes. Direct care workers have been among the lowest paid workers in the service industry. Nearly 90 percent of these workers are women and nearly 50 percent of them are minorities.
Individual workers who are employed directly by the individual who is receiving their services, or that person’s family, and who is engaged primarily in providing company, visiting, reading, or engaging in hobbies, will be considered exempt from FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime protections.
When workers also perform household work and provide medically related services and care for the consumer, they are entitled to FLSA protections.
U.S. Labor Secretary, Thomas Perez, says that this new law is “. . . taking an important step toward guaranteeing that these professionals receive the wage protections they deserve while protecting the right of individuals to live at home.”
For those who have suffered catastrophic injuries and will require the services of someone to attend to their activities for daily living, this new ruling provides basic protections for the workers and it will help ensure that those who rely on the services of direct health care workers have access to high-quality care that comes from a stable, professional workforce.
If you have been injured due to the negligence of another, we invite you to contact us to discuss your case. To find out more about what we do, we invite you to contact Taylor Jones Taylor at one of our three office locations in Olive Branch, Southaven or Hernando, where we proudly service clients throughout DeSoto County and beyond.