The Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has announced that it will hold off on bringing enforcement actions against employers for violating the new minimum wage and overtime requirements imposed by the controversial home care regulations that take effect on January 1, 2015. Issued over a year ago, the WHD rule eliminates the FLSA's minimum wage and overtime exemption for home care workers employed by home care agencies and other companies. The rule also significantly narrows the exemption for home care workers employed directly by the individuals or families receiving home care services.
The WHD emphasizes that despite many requests to delay the rule's implementation, it will adhere to the Jan. 1, 2015 effective date. However, as stated in the notice that will appear in the October 9 edition of the Federal Register, the WHD
recognizes . . . that the implementation of the Final Rule raises sensitive issues. . . . Given the unique effects of this rule . . . the Department is announcing that between January 1, 2015 and June 30, 2015, it will not bring enforcement actions against any employer as to violations of FLSA obligations resulting from the Final Rule.
The agency notes that while it will not conduct formal investigations during this six-month grace period, "any information received during this time period suggesting non-compliance with FLSA requirements will be used as an opportunity to provide additional technical assistance to States and other potential employers in order to facilitate efficient and effective implementation of the Final Rule."
The WHD's announcement that it will not be enforcing the rule until June 30, 2015 is welcome news for home care agencies. However, because the agency did not delay the rule's effective date, home care companies may still be sued by their employees in private litigation if they fail to reclassify employees as non-exempt and begin paying overtime as of January 1, 2015. Thus, home care employers should continue efforts to comply with the new rule.