New Rules and Regulations Surrounding Employment of Domestic Workers in Illinois

September 7, 2022

On August 1, 2022, the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) adopted amendments that took immediate effect and impacted domestic workers, specifically those employed to complete tasks in individuals’ homes, as well as their employers. According to IDOL Director Jane Flanagan, the updated changes aim “to make domestic workers’ rights-on-the-job clearer and help domestic employers understand their obligations under the law.”

These new amendments impact a specific group of Illinois employees which typically include nannies, caregivers, or housekeepers, i.e., roles that take place within their employer’s home. The newly adopted rules require that domestic workers be appropriately paid for all hours worked, including time and a half pay when working overtime. The amendment provides examples of these circumstances for clarification. For example, a caregiver who makes personal calls while supervising a bedridden patient is not completely relieved of all work-related duties in this instance and must be compensated for duties during this time. Conversely, a nanny who takes a lunch break, leaving the employer’s premises and not responsible for children during this break, is relieved of all work-related duties and does not need to be compensated for this time.

Additionally, employers must plan for and designate periods of rest and sleep for domestic workers during shifts. Specifically, a bona fide meal break is mandatory and is defined as a period twenty minutes or longer when a worker is relieved from duty for the purposes of eating regular meals. Sleep time is defined as a period of not more than eight hours during which a domestic worker can sleep uninterrupted in employer provided sleeping quarters. If, as IDOL provides as an example, a caregiver is interrupted during his scheduled sleep period from 11 PM and 5 AM three times, he has not been afforded a minimum of 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep and thus this time must be compensated.

Employers must also proactively communicate the breakdown of deductions from employee paychecks for food and housing costs. Amendments to housing include updated requirements such as providing a room with a lock and at a minimum a twin size bed as well as unrestricted access to the kitchen, laundry, bathroom, and water. Finally, in the case of multiple employees, responsibilities must be delineated and clearly conveyed with domestic workers.

These amendments and updated regulations come after the extension of Minimum Wage Law protections to include domestic workers who had been previously excluded from this coverage. As such, employers of domestic workers must keep wage and hour records just like all other employers subject to this law. These time records must include indication of bona fide meal breaks, rest periods, and sleep periods taken in a workweek.

If you have questions or concerns regarding these amendments or any other questions regarding Employment or Labor Law, please contact the qualified attorneys at Rock Fusco & Connelly.