Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has suspended a policy that restricted overtime hours for home care workers in the state just before an industry union prepared to file a class action lawsuit challenging the policy.
The Illinois Department of Human Services implemented the overtime restriction in May, mandating that home care workers in Illinois’ Home Services program could not work more than 35 hours per week with 5 more hours allowed for travel. Workers could only work more than 40 hours total for the week under certain, qualified conditions. Rauner’s suspension bars the policy.
While state Secretary of Human Services James Dimas said the overtime limits reportedly saved the state more than $5 million since the policy took effect, home care agencies and union group SEIU Healthcare Illinois in the state say the policy was burdensome to patients and unfair to workers. Patients were forced to hire additional help if they required more than 40 hours of care per week. The policy gave rest to roughly 8,000 Illinois workers who regularly work overtime, Dimas said.
SEIU called the suspension a “huge,” but “temporary victory.” The group was prepared to file a lawsuit the same day of the Rauner administration’s announcement.
“The Rauner administration’s 11th-hour backtracking is an acknowledgement that they broke the law by capping hours for personal assistants,” the union group posted on its website.
However, the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) is still planning to move forward with formally submitting the policy, which would allow for public comment.
The policy came in the aftermath of home care workers winning overtime and minimum wage benefits in the last few years. Rauner recently vetoed a bill that would increase the minimum wage for home care workers in the budgets state to $15 per hour.
Written by Amy Baxter