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Illinois Home Care Workers Face Cap on Overtime Hours

January 21, 2016

Home care workers in the Illinois Home Services Program (HSP) will have their weekly hours capped at 40 beginning on March 1, the result of a months-long stalemate over the state budget.

HSP caregivers will not be paid for hours worked beyond 35 hours a week, with an additional five hours factored in for travel time, according to state Department of Human Services (DHS) memo obtained by the Associated Press.

A federal rule change that took effect last October requires home care workers to be paid time-and-a-half wages for hours worked beyond 40 a week. The U.S. Department of Labor began to fully enforce the rule on January 1.

The DHS memo says that caregivers who violate the 40-hour-per-week limit will receive a written warning; they face dismissal after receiving a third warning.

The memo also says that exceptions will be made if overtime is inevitable, as in cases involving medical emergencies or natural disasters.

Still, many predict that the cap will disrupt services enough that quality of care will suffer.

Caregiver Taschika Hatchett of Springfield told the AP, “The two people that I provide services for have no family around, so they depend on me for their everyday needs, to be safe, clean and comfortable.”

Ongoing Budget Impasse

Illinois has been operating without an FY16 budget since July 1. Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) has refused to sign a budget unless it contains significant concessions to businesses, as well as provisions designed to weaken unions in the state.

Meanwhile, the lack of a budget has had numerous wide-ranging effects on ordinary Illinoisans, including the estimated 30,000 people with disabilities who rely on the HSP program every day.

“I don’t understand what [Rauner’s] version of compassion means,” state senator Iris Martinez (D), told the AP. “Our government is there to make sure we can help the vulnerable.”

— by Matthew Ozga

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