In a letter sent to governors dated March 20 (attached below), Secretary of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez advised states to "thoughtfully" prepare to comply with the Home Care Rule that was finalized in 2013, which was set to go into effect on January 1 of this year. The rule narrows the use of the companionship exemption and imposes additional timekeeping requirements. In the letter, Perez acknowledges ongoing litigation challenging the rule, and states strongly that states should be prepared to implement the rule promptly once the case is concluded. (See WICs article, "ANCOR Releases Memorandum on Impact of Recent DOL Home Care Rule Court Decisions," February 6, 2015, for a thorough analysis of the court ruling.)
Though the legal case puts the rule in legal limbo for the moment, Perez said that because the rule "could require an adjustment to your State's budget or programs" and since some states will not have another budget cycle before the outcome of the lawsuit is clear, states should work now to prepare to implement the rule if the government prevails in the appeals court.
Perez noted the extensive work the DOL has put into communicating with stakeholders to educate and provide technical assistance regarding the rule and stressed the importance his department places on the "two key implementing principles" of the rule, specifically, "protecting the rights of workers and supporting the individuals who rely on home care services by not interfering with the models of care that allow them to stay in their homes and communities." He also pointed governors to a "Dear Colleague" letter sent recently by the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services which addresses Olmstead obligations states have. (See WICs article, "DOJ, HHS Send Strong Message on Olmstead Implications of FLSA," December 16, 2014.)