Illinois Home Care Workers Say Goodbye To Overtime Pay

In a the long-standing fight over whether home care workers in Illinois will be able to receive overtime care, the governor has once again ruled against workers. Home care workers in Illinois will no longer be allowed to receive overtime pay, after Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed Senate Bill 261 on Friday, January 27.

The bill would have prohibited Illinois from limiting the number of weekly hours worked by individual providers. The latest veto is part of an ongoing rift between Gov. Rauner’s attempts to curb state spending and home care workers, who have been fighting for the right to work overtime. The state was also roiled with a budget “armageddon” that impacted home health care agencies last year.

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) attempted to reasonably address the overtime being worked by individual providers in the aftermath of a ruling granting overtime and minimum wage protections to home care workers, Rauner said in a veto message on Friday. Ultimately, the agency took into account the safety of the workers in the taxpayer-funded Home Service Program as well as the increase in costs for agencies that resulted from the original ruling. IDHS has proposed policy that would allow overtime in “appropriate circumstances” and allow the state to put limits on overtime hours.

Rauner argued Bill 261 could result in tired workers and inadequate care.

“This legislation will result in many individual providers working unlimited hours on insufficient rest, will place many customers at risk of receiving inadequate care from a single, exhausted individual provider, and will drive up costs that will result in cuts to this program or others,” Gov. Rauner said in his veto statement.

Though the veto in Illinois may seem like it could have negative impacts on both home care agencies and home care workers, the change will protect patients and the long-term sustainability of the program’s funding, Rauner added.

While Illinois is cracking down on overtime pay in an effort to curb state spending, other states are grappling with new policies that are adding costs to providers. Policies in Maine and California are having a more positive impact on home care workers, but not so much on the home care agencies.

Groups in Maine and California are fighting for increases in the minimum wage. California recently passed an increase to $15 per hour by 2022 in addition to adding three more sick days for in-home care workers. Maine’s minimum wage will increase to $12 per hour by 2020.

Written by Alana Stramowski