U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fla., wants the U.S. Labor Department to restore federal policies ended by the Obama administration on paying home healthcare workers overtime.
This week, Rooney sent a letter to acting U.S. Labor Sec. Patrick Pizzella calling on Pizzella to rescind the Obama administration’s decision to end the Companion Services Exemption to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
“We must ensure that families have access to affordable in-home companion service. I recently led the efforts in Congress to ask the administration to overturn a ruling made in 2013 that went against the intent established by Congress many decades ago. There have been many unintended consequences since the rule change and it is time to right the wrong. Families have many things to manage and we should not exacerbate the already significant pressure of home care,” Rooney said this week.
“We have to ensure that the elderly and disabled individuals in our communities have access to affordable companion care,” Rooney added. “That’s why I am urging the Department of Labor to rescind these regulations and uphold the Companion Services Exemption as Congress intended.”
Back in 2013, the Obama White House “changed the interpretation of a rule within the Department of Labor which effectively repealed the Companion Services Exemption to the Fair Labor Standards Act.” That exemption excluded home healthcare workers from overtime if they work more than 40 hours.
In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Companion Services Exemption was constitutional in Long Island Care at Home, Ltd. v. Coke in a 9-0 ruling.
First elected to Congress in 2016, Rooney has grown increasingly active on labor issues during his time on Capitol Hill.
Right after winning a second term in November, Rooney wrote then U.S. Labor Sec. Alexander Acosta, calling on him to classify worker centers as labor organizations. Back in April 2018, Rooney introduced the “Accountability for Represented Workers Act” to offer more transparency and close the worker center loophole which some critics insist organized labor uses to avoid disclosing finances and keep current leadership in place. In October, Rooney introduced the “Union Integrity Act” which, he insists, will protect whistle blowers and crack down on corruption. Earlier in the year, Rooney introduced the House version of the “Union Transparency and Accountability Act,” a proposal championed by U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-SD, in recent years which would add more transparency in unions’ finances by bringing back rules ended by the Obama administration.