Pennsylvania’s Minimum Wage law requires that employees who work in excess of 40 hours in a workweek be paid overtime at the rate of 1½ times the worker’s regular rate of pay. The law exempts “ [d]omestic services in or about the private home of the employer” from the minimum wage and overtime requirements. According to regulations enacted by the PA Department of Labor and Industry (“DOLI”), however, the exemption applies only to the services of aides who are hired directly by the householder, not to the services of aides who work for a third party agency. On November 17, 2010, in Bayada Nurses, Inc v. Department of Labor and Industry, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court unanimously upheld DOLI regulations as consistent with the intent of state law and held that a home health agency cannot rely on the “domestic services” exemption to avoid paying overtime to its home health aides because it is a third party agency employer.
In contrast, in 2007, in Long Island Care at Home, Ltd, v. Evelyn Coke, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations exempted home care agencies from having to pay overtime to its employees who worked in clients' homes. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, however, rejected Bayada’s argument that it should be subject to the exemption standards under the FLSA, not Pennsylvania Minimum Wage law.
The decision means that, in Pennsylvania, home health agencies must now pay overtime to aides who work more than 40 hours in a workweek. The decision also has broader implications for any employer relying on the domestic services exemption. To come within the domestic services exemption: (1) the worker must be providing domestic services in or about a private home; and (2) the work must be performed in the home of the employer, not a third party. Employers in the state should carefully review their overtime exemptions and be sure that they are not erroneously relying on FLSA provisions where there are differing Pennsylvania requirements.
This entry was written by Thomas Benjamin Huggett.