Application of the Fair Labor Standards Act to Domestic Service
The Department of Labor (the Department or DOL) proposes to revise the current Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA or the Act) regulations pertaining to the exemption for companionship services and live-in domestic services. Section 13(a)(15) of the FLSA exempts from its minimum wage and overtime provisions domestic service employees employed ``to provide companionship services for individuals who (because of age or infirmity) are unable to care for themselves (as such terms are defined and delimited by regulations of the Secretary).'' Section 13(b)(21) of the FLSA exempts from the overtime provision any employee employed ``in domestic service in a household and who resides in such household.'' These exemptions were enacted in 1974 at the same time that Congress amended the FLSA to extend coverage to domestic service employees employed by private households. The regulations governing these exemptions have been substantively unchanged since they were promulgated in 1975. Due to significant changes in the home health care industry over the last 35 years, workers who today provide in-home care to individuals are performing duties and working in circumstances that were not envisioned when the companionship services regulations were promulgated. The number of workers providing these services has also greatly increased, and a significant number of these workers are being excluded from the minimum wage and overtime protections of the FLSA under the companionship services exemption. The Department has re- examined the regulations and determined that the regulations, as currently written, have expanded the scope of the exemption beyond those employees whom Congress intended to exempt when it enacted Sec. Sec. 13(a)(15) and 13(b)(21) of the FLSA. Therefore, the Department proposes to amend the regulations to revise the definitions of ``domestic service employment'' and ``companionship services.'' The Department also proposes to clarify the type of activities and duties that may be considered ``incidental'' to the provision of companionship services. In addition, the Department proposes to amend the record- keeping requirements for live-in domestic workers. Finally, the Department proposes to amend the regulation pertaining to employment by a third party of companions and live-in domestic workers. This change would continue to allow the individual, family, or household employing the worker's services to apply the companionship and live-in exemptions and would deny all third party employers the use of such exemptions.