Illinois Proposal Would Cap Hours of Home Care Workers
October 13, 2016 03:44 PM
A Department of Labor regulation ordering that all home care workers must earn time-and-a-half overtime pay has predictably led to efforts to cap the hours caregivers can be paid per week.
In Illinois, the state Department of Human Services implemented a policy in May 2016 that capped the hours home care workers could be paid per week at 40, in response to the federal ruling. However, the policy was put on hold in August after a union representing 25,000 home care workers prepared to file suit to block the new rule. Now, the administration of Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (R) wants to impose the rule through the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.
The policy would require clients in the home care program to hire as many personal assistants as necessary to cover the hours of care they need each week without requiring any of them to work overtime. Anyone working over 40 hours per week would have to submit written justification to the department for approval and anyone working unapproved overtime three times would be barred from payment through the program. The state claims this policy is necessary to save money.
NAHC warned the Department of Labor when the overtime regulation was originally promulgated that it would lead to this result – states trying to save money by imposing caps on working hours for caregivers.
It appears the Rauner administration’s policy has drawn federal notice, as the Department of Labor sent a letter to the state earlier this month expressing its “significant concerns,” including the absence of a “robust exceptions policy,” which could result in workers violating federal law by providing off the clock care. “Without an appropriate exceptions policy,” the letter reads, “it is likely that either employees who care for vulnerable individuals will feel that they have no choice but to work uncompensated hours… or consumers will be left without adequate assistance.” The Department deems both outcomes unacceptable.
Public hearings on the proposed rule have been held this month in Chicago and Springfield and the department will now respond to the public comments before submitting its final proposal to the legislature for approval.