Home Care Rule Takes Effect

The US Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Home Care Rule, extending minimum-wage and overtime protections to home care workers, officially took effect on October 13. Originally promulgated by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in 2013, the rule change was scheduled to begin on January 1, 2015 before a series of legal challenges held up implementation. Those legal challenges continue as the plaintiffs in the case have asked for the Supreme Court to review the case.

In the meantime, because both the circuit court and the Supreme Court denied motions to stay the rule while plaintiffs appeal the circuit court’s ruling, the rule, and the obligations it imposes on employers, is now in effect. DOL has indicated that it will not engage in any enforcement activities until November 12, and then will exercise “exercise prosecutorial discretion in determining whether to bring enforcement actions” through January 1, 2016, when full enforcement begins. However, it is unclear what effect DOL’s stance will have on private actions taken during this time. Furthermore, it is important to understand that employers’ liability for minimum wage and overtime for these workers began on October 13th, and future assessment of compliance, or remedial actions, will involve meeting these liabilities.

DOL will continue to offer “compliance assistance” to states, which the department emphasizes is different from enforcement activities. Compliance assistance involves working with states to understand their particular implementation challenges and offering technical assistance that will aid the state in planning for and moving toward compliance. Enforcement activities, on the other hand, involve launching an investigation that will be focused on assessing a state’s exact liability toward each covered employee who has not been paid sufficiently to cover minimum wage or overtime.

FMI: DOL describes the history of the litigation, and lays out its ongoing approach to compliance, here: http://www.dol.gov/whd/homecare/litigation.htm