Home care workers will receive the same federal protections as other workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act, beginning in January 2015. Under a final rule issued today by the U.S. Department of Labor, the agency narrowed a companionship exemption that had excluded home care workers from minimum wage and overtime protections for nearly 40 years. "This is a tremendous victory for home care aides," the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute said in a release. The ruling will apply to the majority of the estimated 2 million home care workers, beginning Jan. 1, 2015. When the initial proposal was issued in December 2011, business groups and congressional Republicans warned that it would reduce hours for home care aides, increase Medicaid and Medicare expenditures and raise costs for families that use home care services, causing fewer families to use them, The New York Times reported.