The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division has announced an extension to March 12 of the comment period for its proposed rule to require minimum wage and overtime protections for nearly two million workers who provide in-home care services.

Currently, workers classified as companions are "exempt" from the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage and overtime pay requirements. According to the DOL, when established in 1974, such exemptions were meant to apply to casual babysitters and companions for the elderly and infirm: not to workers who chose in-home care service as a vocation. The proposal would, if granted, continue the exemption for households but not for third-party staffing agencies.

The rule would expand minimum wage and overtime protections and cover all workers employed by third parties such as staffing agencies to perform skilled in-home work. However, families that engage individuals for true companionship activities, such as visiting with friends or pursuing hobbies, would still be considered "companions" and not be required to meet the act's labor standards provisions. More about the proposed rule

Interested parties may submit comments by March 12. Individuals and organizations that have already submitted comments may use the extension period to revise or add to their original comments.