NAHC Asks Court to Delay Home Care Wage, Overtime Regs

Two motions have been filed in the case over the extension of minimum wage and overtime protections to nearly 2 million home care workers, one seeking to expedite implementation and the other aiming to delay the rule going into effect.

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) and two other associations filed a motion for stay with the U.S. Court of Appeals earlier this week in an effort to stall the Department of Labor’s rules to extend these wage and overtime protections.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice filed a motion for expedited issuance of the mandate on behalf of the DOL to hasten their installation.

In 2013, the DOL opened Fair Labor Standards Act provisions to home care workers, making them eligible for the overtime and wage protections. Previously, home care agencies could claim their employees were exempt from the regulations.

The move prompted NAHC and the Home Care Association of America to challenge the DOL, arguing that the new protections could actually harm workers should agencies reduce hours to avoid paying overtime. They also expressed concern that access to care could be compromised as costs increase.

A federal appeals court ruled in August that home care workers do in fact qualify for such protections.

In the motion for stay, NAHC indicates its intent to seek Supreme Court review. If a stay isn’t granted by Oct. 13, the rules will go into effect before the court has the opportunity to weigh in, according to the document.

“The Department has yet to explain why home caregivers who perform exactly the same job duties, whether they are viewed as ‘professional’ or as ‘casual,’ should be treated as exempt when employed by the direct consumer but non-exempt when employed by a third party,” NAHC attorney Maurice Baskin wrote. “The work performed is identical and the exemption should apply equally to both.”

The DOL, on the other hand, urges swift action following the appellate court ruling. The protections were set to take effect Jan. 1 but were struck down by a lower court, postponing their implementation further.

“There is no basis for further delay,” Alisa B. Klein, an attorney at the DOJ, wrote in the agency’s motion. “Since the final rule was issued, the Department of Labor has worked closely with stakeholders to provide technical assistance and guidance.”

Written by Kourtney Liepelt