The U.S. Department of Labor (”DOL”) has published a notice of proposed rulemaking, in which it proposes to change its interpretation of the Companion Care Exemption, by significantly narrowing the scope of services covered by the exemption and by denying the exemption to any third parties. This important provision currently exempts covered caregivers from the overtime and minimum-wage requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. It permits one caregiver to care for one elderly or disabled individual for an extended period of time, while making the care more affordable to an individual who needs home care to remain independent, and avoid institutionalization.
The DOL’s proposal will hurt seniors and disabled adults who rely on in-home care to live independently. It will significantly raise the cost of the care they receive and, because many are on fixed incomes, force many to get less care than they require. Further, instead of working with one caregiver, many seniors and disabled adults would have to endure caregivers being switched throughout the week to avoid their overtime charges. This loss in the continuity of care would adversely affect the quality of care seniors and disabled adults receive and it would diminish their safety as well. Because of the increased costs, some seniors and disabled adults may be forced to sell their homes and move into institutional care, placing an additional burden on the taxpayer since the care would be covered by Medicaid.
The DOL's proposal would also negatively impact thousands of small businesses nationwide by significantly increasing their administrative costs and by making it more difficult to service clients effectively. Moreover, the nearly 340,000 companion care workers in this sector would be negatively impacted as they’d have to work less hours than they otherwise might and many would be forced to begin working in the “underground market”. In fact, companion care agencies expect nearly one quarter (23%) of their clients will be forced to seek institutional care or "underground services" from unlicensed providers which can put seniors, disabled adults, and caregivers at significant risk.
We are urging the DOL to immediately withdraw its notice of proposed rulemaking concerning the companion care exemption that would have such harmful consequences to seniors and disabled adults, caregivers in the sector, small business owners, and taxpayers. DOL's proposed rule changes would not only cripple a growing industry in a time of economic recovery, but more importantly, could take away the choice for seniors and disabled adults to stay in their homes. We need to KEEP HOME CARE AFFORDABLE FOR SENIORS AND DISABLED ADULTS!