In October 2013, the US Department of Labor (DOL) issued a Final Rule updating the regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) affecting home care workers providing companionship services and domestic service effective on January 1, 2015. Included were changes to the definition of domestic service, companionship services and the elimination of the exemption for third-party employers. The change would require third-party employers such as home care agencies and staffing firms to pay home care workers minimum wage and overtime while still preserving the exemption for such workers employed by the family or household using the services. (See http://www.dol.gov/whd/flsa/companionNPRM-SidebySide.htm for changes initiated by the DOL.)
The Home Care Association filed suit against the DOL (Home Care Association of America v. Weil) and the US District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision on December 22, 2014 vacating the regulation preventing third-party employers from utilizing the exemption for covered employees. The Court based this decision on the clear intent of Congress that the exemption should apply to any employee providing companionship or domestic service in the home to the aged or infirm regardless of who employs them as has been law for the last 40 years. To read the actual court decision, see http://www.wagehourblog.com/files/2014/12/Home-Care-Association-of-America-v.-Weil.pdf.
The court did not address the changes to the duties limitations addressed in the DOL final regulations, and those changes will take place effective January 1, 2015. To be eligible for the exemption, home care workers' duties must comply with the new regulations regardless of whether employed by the family or a third party employer.