Paying Home Care Workers Checklist

Feb 24, 2017 | Labor Laws, Tax & Wage Laws

paying home care workersThe Department of Labor (DOL) has very strict wage and hour requirements of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as it applies to most home care workers. Following their publication of the Home Care Final Rule in 2015, many employers still have questions about the rules for paying home care workers legally. We have created a handy checklist for paying home care workers to help individuals and households determine their responsibilities under the FLSA.

What is a home care worker?

The DOL defines a home care worker as someone who provides certain types of services in private homes. The DOL labels these services as fellowship and protection (keeping company, playing games, hobbies), personal care (dressing, bathing, cooking, cleaning, etc.), and/or health-related services (injections, tube feeding, other medical-related activities). Home care workers can be live-in or live-out. A home care worker’s job title may be something like a home health aide, personal care attendant, certified nursing assistant (CNA), provider, or caregiver. It’s important to note that health-related or personal services that are provided in a group home, nursing home, residential care facility, or hospital are NOT home care services.

The Companionship Services Exemption

There are limited circumstances in which household employers are not subject to the FLSA requirements of paying a home care worker federal minimum wage and overtime pay (home care workers employed by an agency or other outside party are required to be paid minimum wage and overtime by that employer). The companionship services exemption occurs only if:

  1. The home care worker spends less than 20% of their time per week providing personal grooming services like cleaning, bathing, cooking, cleaning, etc.;
  2. No medical services are performed by the home care worker, or;
  3. No housework is performed for the benefit of the whole family or household, such as preparing meals for the family or doing other household members’ laundry. The only housework done is for the person for whom the home care worker was hired.

Checklist for Paying Home Care Workers

  • If you hired a live-out home care worker directly, make sure you:
    • Pay at least minimum wage for all hours worked up to 40 hours each week
    • Pay 1.5 times their wage rate for any hours worked over 40 in one week
    • Keep a record of hours worked and basic employment records
  • If you hired a live-in home care worker directly, make sure you:
    • Pay at least minimum wage for all hours worked up to 40 hours each week
    • Keep a record of hours worked and basic employment records
    • Consider creating a clear agreement about work and sleep schedules, break times, time off, etc.
  • If you hired a home care worker through an agency or non-profit organization:
    • You’ll still need to make sure the worker is receiving at least minimum wage and overtime pay if they are live-out.
    • Check with the agency to ensure they are paying the worker accurately and keeping a record of hours worked.
    • Make sure the agency can provide access to the worker’s employment records.
  • If you hired a home care worker through a self-directed program funded by Medicaid:
    • You are responsible for ensuring the worker is paid at least minimum wage and receives overtime pay unless they are a live-in worker.
    • Make sure the worker is paid accurately and all hours worked are recorded.
    • Make sure you keep accurate employment records.

For more information, download the DOL’s Paying Minimum Wage and Overtime to Home Care Workers guide, or contact us at (800) 929-9213.

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