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Home Care Companions Are Entitled to Overtime Under the FLSA

A D.C. Court of Appeals confirms that home care companions are entitled to overtime under the FLSA.  The appellate court confirmed that home care agencies and families using caregivers must pay overtime unless the employee meets the narrow “companion” definition.  The new regulations gained a lot of press in late 2014 and early 2015 when the regulations were set to go into effect.  A D.C. Circuit court judge held the provisions invalid, and stayed implementation of the new regulations.  The Department of Labor appealed, and many have been waiting to see what the appellate court will do.

Home care companions are entitled to overtime under the FLSA

The appellate court issued its decision in Home Care Association of America, et al. v. David Weil on August 21, 2015.  The appellate court disagreed with the lower court’s analysis, and found the regulations enforceable.  What does this mean for California employers (at least until the case is appealed to the Supreme Court)?

California and federal rules are different

The federal companion regulations mark one of the first instances where the federal wage and hour laws are more strict than California’s wage and hour laws.  Under California law, caregivers–which California usually calls personal attendants–are only entitled to overtime when they work more than 9 hours in a day or more than 45 hours in a week.  Those same home care companions are entitled to overtime under the FLSA after working 40 hours in a week.  This means many California caregivers will receive overtime after 9 hours in a day or after 40 hours in a week.

The definition of companion is also more limited than California’s personal attendant exemption.  Federal companions cannot spend more than 20% of their time providing care (e.g., assisting with the activities of daily living).  Their primary job is limited to providing fellowship and protection.  California’s personal attendants are allowed to spend 80% of their time providing care, fellowship and protection.

Another major difference between federal and state law is that, under the federal regulations, companions employed by third party care agencies can never be exempt from the FLSA.  California law does not differentiate between private employers and third-party employers.

If you or someone you know has questions about caregiver overtime rules in California, contact the Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.  Robert Nuddleman assists families, care agencies and caregivers understand the law and ensure employees are paid correctly.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

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