State rescinds overtime restriction rules for home care workers

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The state of Illinois has rescinded rules that restricted overtime for people who provide in-home care for people with disabilities. (WLS)

The state of Illinois has rescinded rules that restricted overtime for people who provide in-home care for the disabled.

When the no-overtime policy went into effect in May, Governor Bruce Rauner's administration said the state could not afford the extra money to comply with a federal government ruling requiring overtime be paid at time-and-a-half.

Workers like Alberta Walker had to cut back the hours she cared for her son. The change in policy is considered a victory for disability advocates.

"My son's service plan calls for 57 hours per week. Under Bruce Rauner's unfair policy, I was told that I could no longer work those hours," Walker said.

Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the union that represents home care workers, was prepared to file a class-action lawsuit Wednesday against the Illinois Dept. of Human Services seeking an injunction to stop the no-overtime policy.

"We are calling on him to permanently rescind overtime caps on personal assistants to ensure they can continue to do the job that people with disabilities have hired them to do," said Terri Harkin, SEIU.

But the lawsuit was not filed because the Illinois Dept. of Human Services announced it had rescinded the policy. But the secretary of the department said his agency will seek an overtime policy through a process with the state legislature's consent.

"We believe it's the right policy. It protects our most vulnerable residents, but it also creates jobs and saves taxpayer dollars," said James Dimas, Illinois Dept. of Human Services.

Under the no-overtime policy, which took effect May 1, workers were limited to 40 hours a week. Violating the policy three times could result in the loss of a license, which has outraged home care recipients.

"Why should my personal assistant get penalized by receiving a warning letter?" Larry Biondi said.

The SEIU said more than 2,200 home care workers were disciplined the past few months for working more than 40 hours a week. They said had the policy not been rescinded, workers could have been terminated.

They also said they are still prepared to fight the state's efforts to enact an overtime policy.

Related Topics:
disabilitydisability issuesBruce RaunerChicago - Downtown
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