TASH is asking you submit written comments on the proposed rule on or before February 27, 2012, at www.regulations.gov. Please share your concern about the unintended consequences this rule could have on individuals with significant disabilities living independently in their own homes and their live-in companions.
View a template letter (Microsoft Word format)
On December 27, 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to amend the companionship and live-in worker regulations, part of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The proposed revisions are intended to clarify the tasks that may be performed by an exempt companion, and limit the companionship exemption to those employed only by the family or household using the services Under the revision, third party employers, such as in-home care staffing agencies, could not claim the exemption, even if the employee is jointly employed by the third party and the family or household.
While Congress expanded protections to “domestic service” workers in 1974, these Amendments also created a limited exemption from both the minimum wage and overtime pay requirements of the FLSA for casual babysitters and companions for the aged and infirm, and created an exemption from the overtime pay requirement only for live-in domestic workers.
Although the regulations governing exemptions have largely remained the same since they were implemented in 1975, the in-home care industry has undergone a dramatic transformation. The earnings of in-home care employees remain among the lowest in the service industry, impeding efforts to improve both jobs and care. Moreover, the workers that are employed by in-home care staffing agencies are not the workers that Congress envisioned when it enacted the companionship exemption (i.e., neighbors performing elder sitting). In view of these changes, the Department believes it is appropriate to reconsider whether the scope of the regulations are now too broad and not in harmony with congressional intent.
TASH is very concerned about a potential unintended consequence of what is clearly an effort to improve working conditions for direct service providers. Many providers of personalized supports for individuals with significant disabilities utilize the companionship exemption as a backbone of many creative support configurations that are highly personalized models of self-direction, especially in relation to live-in roommates. Live-in roommates are available in the rare case of an emergency or for infrequent support needs, which the individual with a disability may occasionally require. Live-in roommates receive free or reduced rent and utilities (their primary residence) in exchange for being a quality, dependable long term roommate who on occasion may provide a small amount of support to the individual at night.
TASH does not wish to challenge the assertion that support companions should be subject to minimum wage and overtime requirements for the hours they perform work. However, in order to ensure that individuals with significant disabilities living independently in their own homes and their live-in companions are not unintentionally harmed by DOL’s proposed changes, it is imperative that the proposed rule be changed to allow live-in roommates during sleep time to be exempted from minimum wage payment requirements in relation to third party employment.
TASH is calling all advocates to please submit written comments on the proposed rule on or before February 27, 2012, at www.regulations.gov. We ask that you use the template (following page) to convey concerns about the unintended consequences the proposed rule, in its current form, could have on individuals with significant disabilities living independently in their homes and their live-in companions.
Please Note: Organizations or individuals should submit only one copy of your comments electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov. Submissions must include the agency name and Regulatory Information Number (RIN) 1235-AA05. Please be advised that comments received will be posted without change to www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.
Help Spread the Word!
We hope you’ll share this important action alert with your friends and colleagues. Please help by posting messages to your Facebook or Twitter accounts, or e-mailing others who care about this important issue!
Facebook (“Like” TASH on Facebook)
Action Alert! Tell the Department of Labor to exempt live-in companions from new rule changes that may have unintended consequences. New rules could restrict personalized supports for people with disabilities who live independently! Details: http://wp.me/p1m4UA-1am
We need your help! The Dept of Labor has proposed new rules with unintended consequences that may limit personalized supports. Tell DOL to exempt live-in companions! Full details here: http://wp.me/p1m4UA-1am
People with disabilities who live independently could face new challenges under Dept of Labor rules that restrict personalized supports. Join us in telling DOL to exempt live-in companions from proposed rules! Details: http://wp.me/p1m4UA-1am
Twitter (Follow TASH on Twitter)
Act now! New rules may limit personalized supports for ppl with disabilities. Tell DOL to exempt live-in companions! http://wp.me/p1m4UA-1am
New DOL rule proposal may restrict live-in support for people with disabilities. View this important action alert! http://wp.me/p1m4UA-1am
Live-in companions who support people with disabilities to live independently under threat if new rules pass! Pls RT! http://wp.me/p1m4UA-1am
Share this downloadable action alert with friends and colleagues!