Implementation of new labor rule a threat to people with disabilities and providers

On Thursday, December 10, a group of 23 advocacy groups sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The letter outlines a string of problems with the Illinois implementation plan for a new Final DOL rule regarding overtime and travel time for domestic workers. The new rule applies to individual providers in the Illinois Home Services Program, which is run through the Illinois Department of Human Services. The Home Services Program is a key a link to independence for at least 30,000 people with disabilities in Illinois, allowing them to live at home instead of in nursing homes. Throughout the 2015 budget cycle, and continuing during the budget impasse, people with disabilities, providers and advocates have been forced to fight to maintain the strength of the Home Services Program. The Illinois Department of Human Services plan to implement the new rule is another threat to the program and to the independence of people with disabilities.

A few of the issues outlined in the letter to the DOL include:

The January 1, 2016 Deadline (now March 1): Consumers and individual providers were only notified of the new rule that last week in November. The deadline of January 1, 2016 provided for the new Illinois policy implementation is too short and may put customers at risk of losing service. In addition, launching the implementation of the policy without training for all stakeholders could have unintended consequences of causing customers with disabilities to lose service hours. (Since the original letter, the State has amended the enforcement deadline. The guidelines will now be enforced beginning on March 1).

The 35 Hour Cap: The Illinois implementation plan caps the number of hours an individual provider works for one consumer at 35. This will force consumers to have to seek additional providers by January 1, 2016.

40 Hour Cap for Individual Providers: Minus a few exceptions, Illinois will cap the total number of hours an Individual Provider may work at 40. Prior to this policy, there was no cap on overtime hours. It is estimated this will impact up to 9,000 individual providers. If individual providers are forced to scale back hours, providers will be forced to choose between customers in the Home Services Program. It will also result in the loss of hours and pay for a workforce that already earn annual wages near the federal poverty line.

Exceptions: The exceptions for approving customer overtime outlined in the policy appear narrow, arbitrary and unjustified, in possible violation of the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Literally, only people who require 24 hour monitoring will be eligible to approve overtime.

If Illinois goes forward with the implementation plan as it stands now, the plan could dismantle and disrupt services for thousands of people with disabilities and individual providers. The letter sent on December 10 asks the DOL to allow Illinois greater flexibility when implementing the new rule. To view the entire letter, please see this link

The letter was sent by the following organizations: Access Living, Advocates for Access, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Arise Chicago, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Caring Across Generations, Chicago ADAPT, Equip for Equality, IARF, Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living (INCIL), IMPACT Center for Independent Living, Latino Union, LIFE Center for Independent Living, LINC, Inc., National Domestic Workers Alliance, Northwestern Illinois Center for Independent Living, Opportunities for Access Center for Independent Living, Progress Center for Independent Living, RAMP Center for Independent Living, SEIU Health Care Illinois & Indiana, SAIL-Soyland Access to Independent Living, Springfield Center for Independent Living, Will-Grundy Center for Independent Living.

If you would like to learn more about this issue, and if you’d would like to speak with consumers and individual providers that will be impacted, please contact Gary Arnold at 312-640-2199 (voice),
Gary Arnold
Public Affairs Manager