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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez

US Department of Labor: Spring Regulatory Agenda 2010

Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

Topic: Amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
Companionship Services Regulations

This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) concerning workers who provide companionship services will support the Secretary's outcome goals of securing minimum wages and overtime and helping middle-class families remain in the middle class.

Key Action

DOL intends to update the companionship services regulations in order to clarify when domestic service employees, who provide companionship services to the aged or infirm, are exempt from the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the FLSA.  DOL intends to consider whether the scope of the companionship exemption as currently defined in the regulations continues to be appropriate in light of substantial changes in the home care industry over the last 35 years. 

Key Issues

DOL intends to consider whether the current exemption of companions working for a party other than the family or household using the companionship services is consistent with the status of a companion in light of significant changes in the home care industry.  DOL also intends to address the scope of training required to render a worker “trained personnel” excluded from the companionship exemption, and the amount of household work that may be performed by the worker without losing the companionship exemption.

Background

The FLSA generally requires employers to pay minimum wage and overtime unless otherwise exempt. The FLSA was amended in 1974 to exempt companions for the aged and infirm from the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Act and granted the Secretary regulatory authority to define and delimit the terms of this exemption.  The regulations governing this exemption have remained largely unchanged since they were promulgated in 1975.  The Wage and Hour Division intends to consider amendments to the regulations in light of the changed nature of the employment relationship for the majority of the companions to the aged and infirm, the increased formalization of this sector of the labor market, and to reflect the Secretary's strategic objectives.