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Overtime Cuts Coming to IL Home-Care Providers

Illinois home-care workers could soon no longer be able log overtime hours, which advocates for seniors and people with disabilities say compromises both the workers and their clients. (iStockphoto)
Illinois home-care workers could soon no longer be able log overtime hours, which advocates for seniors and people with disabilities say compromises both the workers and their clients. (iStockphoto)
April 26, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Starting next week, thousands of people with disabilities and the home healthcare workers who assist them could be affected by Illinois' new overtime-pay policy.

On May 1, the state begins enforcing a strict 40-hour workweek limit on home-care providers.

Advocacy groups in Illinois argue the move bypasses new federal rules that extend overtime protections to these workers.

Adam Ballard, organizing and policy manager for Access Living, says the policy essentially allows the state to avoid paying overtime, which has consequences not only for caregivers, but for the people who rely on those services.

"For people who have live-in personal attendants, those kind of workers often go over 40 hours a week," says Ballard. "It becomes a huge problem for families in that situation, where there's actually a live-in attendant who's often, but not always, a family member of some kind."

But Illinois' Department of Human Services says overtime cuts are needed, as the state can't afford any extra payments due to the months-long budget impasse.

Ballard says he sympathizes with the state's need to rein in spending on some services or create more revenue to balance the budget. But he also believes scaling back on home-care for some of Illinois' most vulnerable residents isn't the way to go.

"The bigger picture is, our state, in order to have a just budget that works for everyone," says Ballard. "Especially in this program, is to find real revenue solutions, where people who can afford to pay more in taxes are paying more in taxes."

Groups including Access Living and SEIU Healthcare Illinois are urging Gov. Bruce Rauner to make last-minute changes to the overtime policy this week, before it goes into effect.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - IL