A Missed Opportunity: Report on Illinois Overtime Policy

New Report outlines devastating impact of Illinois overtime guidelines on people with disabilities and home healthcare workers

(In the photo above, Ayo Maat, a consumer in the Home Services Program, testifies at a news conference to release the White Paper on the Illinois Overtime Policy)

– With just over one month in to the State of Illinois’ misguided overtime policy, Access Living, the National Employment Law Project (NELP), the Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living (INCIL), Caring Across Generations, and SEIU Healthcare Illinois jointly released a Special Report that relays the devastating impact of the Rauner Administration’s Overtime Policy for the Home Services Program. The report introduces people with disabilities across Illinois who already face a loss of services and a loss of independence because of the policy, and personal assistants who have been threatened with termination since introduction of the policy.

Governor Rauner implemented the overtime policy on Sunday, May 1, 2016, despite calls from advocates warning that the policy would disrupt the home care system and harm people with disabilities, workers, and families.

Governor Rauner’s original proposed budget for FY17 included funding for overtime costs in the Home Services Program. Yet, the State has persisted in imposing a new overtime policy that subjects personal assistants and people with disabilities to oppressive restrictions that threaten the independence and safety of people with disabilities, and the livelihood of personal assistants.

Among other things, the new policy states that personal assistants, who work for people with disabilities enrolled in the Illinois Home Services Program, are not allowed to work more than 40 hours a week. People with disabilities with service plans of more than 35 hours a week are forced to hire additional personal assistants and personal assistants face possible termination if they work over allotted hours, even if the extra time is to support a consumer who needed additional help.

“I’ve interviewed several potential caregivers to take over my consumer’s additional hours. Unfortunately, so far the candidates have found the job to be too overwhelming. The level of responsibility does not line up with the hourly pay and lack of benefits offered,” said Beth Fairweather, a personal assistant featured in the report. “I just don’t understand why the state would impose such a strict, confusing policy and not have their offices trained and prepared to assist people. It’s very scary to think that there are other individuals with disabilities out there who may not have someone to navigate this with them – what are they supposed to do?”

The new report identifies why the Illinois policy is a threat to consumers and workers in the Home Services Program with real life examples from across Illinois, and calls on the Rauner Administration to suspend the current draconian overtime policy and work with disability and labor advocates to create a new policy that meets the health and safety needs of people with disabilities, is fiscally responsible, and that supports all stakeholders without putting lives at risk.

“Illinois’ new overtime policy is imposing unfair rules on me and on the thousands of other people with disabilities in the Home Services Program,” said Ayo Maat, a consumer in the Home Services Program. “Illinois’ new policy does not reflect the reality of the Home Services program and the lives of people with disabilities.”

"Illinois had an incredible opportunity to improve its Home Services Program and ensure that everyone in the state's home care system could benefit from more stability and resources. Sadly, the state refused to listen to worker advocates, unions or disability rights groups,” said Sarita Gupta, Co-Director of Caring Across Generations. “But it's not too late - Illinois should use this moment to turn around and make its Home Services Program the best in the nation."

Read the full report here .

For more information, contact Kaitlin DeCero at Kaitlin.decero@seiuhcil.org, (312) 607-0590, or Gary Arnold at garnold@accessliving.org, 312-640-2199.

Gary Arnold
Public Affairs Manager