HOME CARE Domestic Service Final Rule Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Domestic Service Final Rule Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was enacted in 1938 to provide minimum wage and overtime protections for workers, to prevent unfair competition among businesses based on subminimum wages, and to spread employment by requiring employers whose employees work excessive hours to compensate employees at one-and-one-half times the regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40.

The FLSA did not initially protect workers employed directly by households in domestic service, such as cooks, housekeepers, maids, and gardeners. Congress explicitly extended FLSA coverage to "domestic service" workers in 1974, amending the Act to apply to employees performing household services in a private home. While Congress expanded protections to "domestic service" workers, the 1974 amendments also exempted certain domestic service workers from the FLSA's minimum wage and overtime provisions. Under this exemption, casual babysitters and domestic service workers employed to provide "companionship services" to elderly persons or persons with illnesses, injuries, or disabilities are not required to be paid the minimum wage or overtime pay. Congress also created an exemption only from the overtime pay requirement for live-in domestic service workers.

The Department recently revised its regulations defining companionship services so that many direct care workers, such as certified nursing assistants, home health aides, personal care aides, and other caregivers are protected by the FLSA. The Department also revised the regulations concerning live-in domestic service workers. The new regulations are effective January 1, 2015. These FAQs are intended to help workers, families and employers better understand the new regulations.


  1. How long has it been since the Department last revised the "domestic service" regulations?
  2. Why did the Department change the "domestic service" regulations?
  3. What are the significant changes to the "domestic service" regulations?
  4. Can individuals, families, and/or households who employ a domestic service worker directly claim the companionship services and live-in domestic service worker exemptions under the Final Rule?
  5. Can third party employers, such as home care or staffing agencies, claim the companionship services and live-in domestic service worker exemptions under the Final Rule?
  6. What FLSA policies were not changed as part of this rulemaking?
  7. What does it mean to be an employer under the Fair Labor Standards Act?
  8. Does the FLSA apply to respite or relief workers who fill in for home care workers?
  9. What if an individual's family member is his/her paid care provider?
  10. What is the significance of an electronic visit verification (EVV) system, used to monitor the arrival and departure of home care workers to and from the home of a recipient of services, on an analysis of joint employment?
  11. What does joint employer status under the Fair Labor Standards Act mean for an employer's obligations under the Affordable Care Act (ACA)?

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