On October 7, 2014, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it would delay enforcement of its new rules designed to narrow the companionship exemption for home care workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The new rules were published about a year ago, but are not scheduled to take effect until January 1, 2015.  In general, the new rules narrow the companionship exemption so that many home care workers – i.e., workers who help individuals with disabilities or the elderly to continue to live independently in their homes and communities – will now be covered by the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime provisions.  The new rules accomplish this by:  (i) providing a more narrow definition of the term “companionship services;” (ii) preventing third-party employers from utilizing the exemption; and (iii) establishing more detailed recordkeeping requirements.  A fact sheet summarizing the new rules is available here.

On October 7, 2014, the DOL announced that it would delay enforcement of the new rules for the first six months of 2015.  In addition, the DOL said it would exercise “discretion” about whether to enforce the new rules during the second half of 2015.  According to the New York Times, a number of states without existing minimum wage and overtime protections pushed for this delay, citing potential increased costs for nursing homes and Medicaid.

Takeaway:  The DOL will not strictly enforce its new rules regarding home care workers for at least the first half of 2015 and potentially for the second half of 2015.