Home Care Workers Gain More Protection Under State Law

Home health care workers have been granted federal overtime and minimum wage protections since last year, but one Midwest state has recently brought these workers under state protections with a new law, as well.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner recently signed into law The Illinois Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, giving state minimum wage and basic human rights to domestic workers, including home health care workers. Illinois is only the sixth state to pass a comprehensive bill of rights for domestic workers, and the seventh state to extend right to domestic workers, according to the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

Other states that have taken similar measures include Massachusetts, California, New York, Oregon, Hawaii and Connecticut.

The bill entitles domestic workers to the state’s hourly minimum wage of $8.25, compared to the federal level of $7.25 per hour. However, home care workers are already paid higher than the state or federal minimum wage, according to Governor Rauner.

The law also brings home care workers under the same protections as the Illinois Human Rights Act, the One Day of Rest in Seven Act and the Wages of Women and Minors Act. The law also extends to nannies, housecleaners and other domestic workers in the state. The measures ensure domestic workers receive the state minimum wage, protection against sexual harassment and a day of rest for workers employed by one employer for at least 20 hours per week.

The law will take effect January 1, 2017.

Rauner’s policies have historically not been as friendly to Illinois home health care workers in the last year, after he vetoed a bill that would have created a pathway to a $15 minimum wage. He also created a policy that capped overtime hours for home health care workers, citing a need for budget resolution in the state that has not had a budget in place for more than a year. Rauner recently suspended the overtime policy on the same day a home health care union group was due to slap a lawsuit against the policy.

Written by Amy Baxter