Statement from Access Living in response to legal ruling

Ruling marks an opportunity to eliminate threats to Home Services Program

An administrative law judge has ruled that the State of Illinois violated state labor law when it unilaterally imposed limits on overtime services in a state program to provide home healthcare for people with disabilities.

The September 5 ruling found that the administration illegally implemented a cap on overtime hours of home care workers without first bargaining with SEIU Healthcare Illinois, the union for some 28,000 workers in the Home Services Program (HSP) who support thousands of people with disabilities. Through the Home Services Program, people with disabilities receive the supports needed to live in their own homes, instead of being forced into segregated and expensive nursing homes. The judge also ordered back pay for these workers in the Home Services Program.

The Administrative Law Judge’s decision remains subject to appeal to the full Illinois Labor Relations Board.

Below is a statement from Access Living in response to the ruling of the administrative law judge:

Access Living applauds the ruling of the administrative law judge. The ruling found that the State of Illinois violated labor law when it implemented an overtime policy for the Illinois Home Services Program. As a result of the overtime policy, people with disabilities in the Home Services Program are at risk of losing the services of their personal assistants. Personal assistants are a key link to independence for thousands of people with disabilities across our state, providing support with day-to-day tasks. This support allows people with disabilities to be healthy and be active in their own homes and communities. The overtime policy implemented by the State threatens to strip people with disabilities of the personal assistants and drive them into nursing homes. In addition to segregating and warehousing people with disabilities, nursing homes are far expensive than personal assistant services, costing on average $17,000 more per person each year.

Access Living urges the State of Illinois to, rather than appeal the decision to the full Labor Relations Board, use this ruling as an opportunity to collaborate with people with disabilities, personal assistants, SEIU, and other stakeholders of the Home Services Program, to develop an overtime policy that supports independence and that supports the livelihood of the workers who provide personal care. Illinois should follow the example set by states such as California, which has implemented overtime rules in a way that allows for flexibility, doesn’t punish consumers and workers for overtime, and that strengthens the network of supports for people with disabilities.

Read a copy of the
judge’s ruling here .

For more information, contact Gary Arnold at 312-640-2199 (voice),
garnold@accessliving.org