Judge issues temporary stay of DOL home care rule

A federal judge has issued a temporary stay on Department of Labor regulations meant to expand minimum wage and overtime pay to home health care workers. 

The rule, which was set to take effect Jan. 1, would have required all employers of home care workers, including third party employers, to consider whether employees are caring for their clients. 

If employees are spending more than 20 percent of their day providing care  – preparing meals, helping them get dressed or use the bathroom – then the employer would not be eligible for the companionship services exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act. 

On New Year’s Eve, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon temporarily restrained the rule until Jan. 15. His action Wednesday follows an earlier ruling in which he struck down the part of the DOL rule that would have extended overtime and minimum wage to home health companion workers employed by third-party businesses. 

The International Franchise Association (IFA), Home Care Associates of America and the National Association for Home Care & Hospice sued the Department of Labor for not only changing the 40-year-old exemption, but redefining care. 

“Last week, the court rightly rejected a portion of the DOL’s most recent overreaching regulations that would have disrupted the growth and prosperity of local franchise business owners across the country,” IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira said in a statement Wednesday. 

“Today’s temporary stay of other parts of the rule is an acknowledgement that these damaging provisions should be subject to very close scrutiny by the courts, and the IFA and its co-plaintiffs will continue to vigorously challenge the ill-conceived regulations through litigation.”

A hearing is schedule for Friday Jan. 9 to hear arguments on the preliminary injunction. Leon is expected to issue a ruling within a few days of that hearing. 

“This week’s decisions provide hope to many who had feared they would no longer be able to afford home care services due to the Labor Department’s overreach,” Home Care Association of America’s said in a news release.