Deadline approaching for Home Services Overtime Rules

In March, the State of Illinois will begin to enforce implementation guidelines regarding new U.S. Department of Labor overtime rules. According to the rules, personal assistants who are employed through the State Home Services Program are eligible for overtime pay. Yet, implementation guidelines from the State of Illinois make it nearly impossible for personal assistants to earn overtime. In addition, the guidelines threaten the stability of consumers now in the program.

The following include a number of implementation guidelines from the Illinois:

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.

Based upon information from the State of Illinois, in the last six months of 2015 (before the rules were in effect) about 6,000 Home Services Providers (or personal assistants) worked overtime at some point. About 4,500 people with disabilities in the Home Services Program require more than 40 hours of assistance per week. Many of the people that require more than 40 hours will be forced to hire new and additional personal assistants.

Also, around 600 workers --

a) work overtime and
b) work for more than one person.

This means, the personal assistants will have to decide which hours to cut for which consumers.

Recently, media outlets began to run stories about the issue. Here is a piece from the Associated Press . Here is a story from Medill Reports . These stories look at the impact of the new rules on live-in providers, who will find their pay drastically reduced, putting their overall financial security at risk.

In a recent email blast, Access Living’s Director of Advocacy, Amber Smock, wrote this about the new implementation rules:

The Home Services Program was originally designed to provide people with disabilities with actual choice in who to hire and fire. We at Access Living are certainly in support of overtime pay for those workers who work more than 40 hours a week, but we also have to stand up for the right of HSP customers with disabilities to make their own decisions about what’s right for them. So, we will continue to monitor and to ask for greater flexibility.

If you have questions or concerns, or would like to share your story about the impact of the new rules in Illinois, please contact Access Living.

Gary Arnold
Public Affairs Manager