A bill to lift a weekly cap on the number of hours a home care worker can put in during the week has been introduced in Illinois, where an ongoing budget crisis has impacted caregivers employed by the state. The legislation amends the Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities Act and would allow home care workers employed by the state to work up to 55 hours per week, instead of the current cap of 40 hours per week.
The legislation comes at a time when Illinois lawmakers have gone back and forth over the state’s budget. Illinois has not had a budget in place for nearly two years as a result of disagreements between state Congressional members and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. Home care workers have seemingly been caught in the crosshairs.
At the start of 2017, Gov. Rauner ruled against allowing overtime pay for home care workers by vetoing a bill and continuing the overtime hourly cap. Rauner also proposed more than $100 million in cuts to the Community Care Program—the program that provides Illinois seniors with home care services—in his budget, released in February 2017.
Capping hours for home care workers at 40 per week has proven to be a controversial move, as some seniors in the state’s home care program need more care per week and prefer to have the same caregiver, with one Illinois home care worker calling the Governor’s actions “hostile” toward seniors.
The bill to lift the cap is estimated to cost between $15 million and $16 million.
Illinois also recently voted to raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour over the next five years. The measure to create a state-wide path to a $15 minimum wage was approved by House lawmakers on May 30. It’s unclear if Gov. Rauner will sign the bill into law or veto it, NBC Chicago reported.
Written by Amy Baxter