Home Health & Hospice

Implementation of redefined "companionship services" delayed; overtime exemption still in place for home health

Homecare Insider, January 5, 2015

The U.S. District Court issued a temporary restraining order that prevents a U.S. Department of Labor rule to redefine "companionship services" from going into effect. The rule, whose new definition of companionship services would exempt overtime compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act, would mean that nearly all current caregivers in home health would be entitled to overtime compensation, creating higher care costs paid by consumers and government funding, such as Medicaid.

NAHC had asked the court for a delay. The new rule was part of the Department of Labor?s effort to restrict overtime exemptions of home care employees. NAHC argued that if overtime compensation is required, home care recipients, companies, employers, and payers of services would face irreparable harm. They were backed by two disability rights advocacy groups, The Centers for Independent Living and ADAPT, along with the Kansas state Department of Aging, which cited concern about home care programs if compensation is required.

However, the lawsuit is still ongoing, and the next phases of the court case will move quickly. The restraining order only holds for 14 days. The next step is for the court to decide whether a Preliminary Injection, which would delay the rule taking effect until a final ruling is made on the case, should be issued. That hearing is set for January 9, 2015.

The Department of Labor has previously indicated that it would appeal any adverse ruling of the court.