DENVER — A federal court in Colorado has ruled that home health aides who provide companion services to their companies’ clients in their households are entitled to minimum wage and overtime protections under Colorado’s minimum wage order. These home health aides provide in-home services that include bathing, making beds, preparing meals, assisting with feeding, preventing falls, and monitoring vital signs. The case before the court was brought against Bayada Home Health Care, a company that employed home health aides to provide clients’ with in-home elderly care services.
Colorado’s Minimum Wage Order and Exemption
Colorado’s minimum wage order provides minimum wage and overtime protections for workers. However, it exempts from the order companions, casual babysitters, and domestic employees employed by households or family members to perform duties in private residences. In this case, Bayada Home Health Care did not pay overtime compensation to its home health aides because it claimed that they were exempt from the state minimum wage order under the companion exemption. The federal district court ruled that, although Bayada’s aides were companions, they were not exempt because they were employed by a third party and not directly by the household or families of clients.
Federal Home Health Care Rule
Similar to the Colorado minimum wage order, the Department of Labor issued a Home Care Final Rule to extend minimum wage and overtime protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to home care workers. FLSA’s protections extended to domestic service workers – however, the rules previously exempted domestic services workers employed to provide companionship services to elderly persons or persons with illnesses, injuries, or disabilities from minimum wage or overtime pay, and exempted in-home domestic service workers from overtime. With the new home care regulations, the DOL redefined companionship services so that many direct care workers, such as certified nursing assistants, home health aides, personal care aides, and other caregivers will now be protected by FLSA. The Department also revised the regulations concerning live-in domestic service workers. These new regulations will become enforceable on November 12, 2015. From November 12 through December 31, 2015, the DOL will exercise prosecutorial discretion in determining whether to bring enforcement actions, with particular consideration given to the extent to which states and other entities have made good faith efforts to bring their home care programs into compliance with the FLSA since the publication of the new home health care rule.
Live-in home health care providers are likely going to be protected by FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime provisions. You should call (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page if you are a home health care provider who is being deprived of minimum wage and overtime pay. Our top-rated team of wage lawyers will evaluate your situation to determine your best course of action. We will also determine if it is in your best interest to file a lawsuit against your employer. There are strict time limitations for filing, so it is important that you call our experienced attorneys today.