Purpose of the Home Health Care Exemption
The home health care exemption was initially implemented to protect people and their families who need health care but who want to remain in the home instead of going to a nursing home. Congress wanted to provide for this type of care without requiring the person receiving the care to pay overtime. They did this by carving out an exemption to the normal overtime rules. These workers were more akin to baby sitters than they were to doctors or nurses, so it made sense to not require a family paying out of their pocket to have to pay overtime.
Purpose of Overtime
This also makes a lot of sense because the purpose of requiring overtime compensation in the first place is to encourage employers to hire more people, therefore lowering the unemployment rate. The thought was that having to pay overtime to one employee who was working 60 hours per week would create an incentive for an employer to hire another employee to work the additional 20 hours instead of paying the overtime wage rate, thereby serving the additional purpose of providing more work for the otherwise unemployed worker.
New Rule Interpreting FLSA Gives Overtime Pay Protections to Home Caregivers
The new rule interpreting the overtime exemption for home caregivers takes into to account the fact that the home health care industry has developed into a model far different than the single person providing home care for an elderly family member or a family member with special needs. Today, the home health care industry is a powerful group with lobbyists on their payroll. Today, the Home Care Association of America represents more than 2,500 member organizations and over 300,000 employees throughout the United States. That's 300,000 employees who without the rule interpretation will be denied overtime compensation. Surely not the result that was intended when the rules were initially promulgated by the Department of Labor.