Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division: Application of the Fair Labor Standards Act to Domestic Service
GAO-14-141R: Oct 30, 2013
GAO reviewed the Department of Labor (Labor), Wage and Hour Division's new rule on application of the Fair Labor Standards Act to domestic service. GAO found that (1) the final rule revises Labor's 1975 regulations implementing amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA or the Act) to better reflect congressional intent given the changes to the home care industry and workforce since that time. In 1974, Congress extended the protections of the Act to "domestic service" employees, but it exempted from the Act's minimum wage and overtime provisions domestic service employees who provide "companionship services" to elderly people or people with illnesses, injuries, or disabilities who require assistance in caring for themselves, and it exempted from the Act's overtime provision domestic service employees who reside in the household in which they provide services. Most significantly, Labor is revising the definition of "companionship services" to clarify and narrow the duties that fall within the term; in addition, third-party employers, such as home care agencies, will not be able to claim either of the exemptions. The major effect of the final rule is that more domestic service workers will be protected by the FLSA's minimum wage, overtime, and recordkeeping provisions; and (2) Labor complied with applicable requirements in promulgating the rule.