The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has announced a 14-day extension of the comment period for its proposed rule to provide minimum wage and overtime protections for nearly 2 million workers who provide in-home care services.

Currently, workers classified as "companions" are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act's (FLSA's) minimum wage and overtime pay requirements. When established in 1974, such exemptions were meant to apply to casual babysitters and companions for the elderly and infirm — not workers who chose in-home care service as a vocation and were responsible for supporting their families. The proposal would, if enacted, grant the exemption to households where the services are provided but not third-party staffing agencies. It would further clarify that companionship services are those directly related to the fellowship and protection of a care recipient.

The division published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register on Dec. 27, 2011, with a comment period originally set to end on Feb. 27, 2012. On Dec. 15, the proposed rule was announced by President Obama and posted on the division's Web site, giving the public more time than the standard 60-day period to comment on the proposal.

After reviewing requests for an extension from members of Congress and the public, the division decided to extend the comment period by 14 days to Monday, March 12. This action will provide additional time for individuals to analyze the issues raised in the proposal and to provide comments. Individuals and organizations that have already submitted comments may use the extension period to revise or add to their original comments.