For Domestic Workers
Frequently Asked Questions
The National Domestic Workers Alliance created the Coronavirus Resource Center to help you feel equipped and prepared to return to work. We recommend you visit the site to see their resources.
Each employer/household that hires you to clean their home must pay you minimum wage in Chicago as well as throughout the state of Illinois. In Chicago, you are entitled to $15 per hour as August 1, 2021.
In Chicago, if the agency has up to 20 employees, you are entitled to $13.50 per hour as of July 1, 2020. If the agency employs more than 21 employees, you are entitled to $14.00 per hour as of July 1, 2020. If you work more than 40 hours in a week for the agency, you are entitled to overtime.
Ask your employer to provide you with gloves and a mask. Per the Governor’s Executive Order #32, employers should provide face coverings. Use good hand washing techniques while working and before leaving work. Avoid taking cleaning supplies from one house to another to prevent the spread of germs, and change your clothes once you get home from work. See list of disinfectants to help kill the virus here.
Under Chicago’s Paid Sick Leave ordinance, employees in Chicago are entitled to earn paid sick leave if they work for at least 80 hours over a 120 day period for one employer. If you have multiple employers/households you will only accrue paid sick time from a single employer if you work 80 hours over 120 days for that employer. You are entitled to accrue 1 hour of paid sick leave per 40 hours worked. You can accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick time over a 12-month period. Half of your accrued hours can be carried over between 12-month periods.
Employees in Chicago are entitled to earn paid sick leave if they work for at least 80 hours over a 120 day period for one employer. If you have multiple employers/households you will only accrue paid sick time from a single employer if you work 80 hours over 120 days for that employer. Additionally, time worked outside of the City does not count towards accrual. Some Chicago suburbs also have paid sick time protections. The following suburbs have paid sick days, with the same requirements as the Chicago ordinance outlined above: Barrington Hills, Berwyn, Cicero, Countryside, Deerfield, Dolton, Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Kenilworth, Lincolnwood, McCook, Northbrook, Oak Brook, Oak Park, Phoenix, Skokie, University Park, Western Springs, Wilmette, Winnetka. If you want to be sure, call the suburb’s village hall to ask about paid sick time.
If you believe you are not being given the proper time off, File a Complaint by calling 311, using CHI 311, or by filling out a Complaint Form (Español). For more information on Paid Sick Leave in Chicago visit the Office of Labor Standards.
Yes, If you work at least 20 hours a week for the same employer, your boss cannot make you work 7 days in a row. You have the right to an unpaid day off. You can work 7 days a week if you choose. You must be paid overtime rate if your seventh day of work causes your total weekly hours to exceed 40. You must be paid the overtime rate if your seventh day of work causes your total weekly hours to exceed 40.
If you have a valid Social Security number and you earned at least $1,600 over the past 12 months and $440 prior to the last 12 months, you qualify for unemployment. You can file a claim here.
The CDC has rules and guidance on how to keep you and your patient safe. Below is more information on home care workers. It is important that you conduct the duties related to your job description and skills and training. If you do not have the training to provide care, you should talk to your employer about bringing in additional assistance. You can also ask your employer to provide face masks, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies to help protect your and your patient’s health.
Yes, you have the right to minimum wage, one day off in seven, overtime pay, and to work in a place that is free from harassment and discrimination. However, if your boss gives you a place to live and/or food, your boss can deduct the cost of housing and/or food from your pay if and only if your remaining wages remain at or above the City of Chicago’s minimum wage.
- If your wages have been stolen (not paid), you can file a report with the City of Chicago’s Office of Labor Standards by calling 311 or file a complaint.
Underneath the Standard Occupational Classification system developed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the U.S. department of Labor, there are four main categories that a Home Care Worker may fall into. Keep in mind that this list does not necessarily include all work situations, nor does one’s personal experiences as a home care worker always line up with the job descriptions or even titles given by the BLS. Still, it is important that you maintain a job that aligns with your skill and trainings. If you are being asked to complete tasks that fall outside of what you were hired to do or beyond your training, it is your right to raise that for your employer and ask them to hire additional support to meet their needs.
These classifications are:
Personal Care Aides assist with activities of daily living, help with housekeeping chores, meal preparation, medication management, and help individuals engage and remain engaged in their communities and their work. Personal Care Aides may also be referred to as “Personal Care Attendant”, “Home Care Worker”, “Personal Assistant”, “Direct Support Professional” (usually reserved for a worker that assists an individual with developmental disabilities).
Independent providers hold similar responsibilities to Personal Care Aides, yet they are often employed through Medicaid programs offering consumer-directed services. Independent providers are often not counted or undercounted in employment estimates.
Home Health Aides assist with activities of daily living and perform clinical tasks such as blood pressure readings and range-of-motion exercises. Home Health Aides are often supervised by a nurse or a therapist. Home Health Aides may also be referred to as “Home Hospice Aide” or “Home Health Attendant”.
Nursing Assistants often work in institutional settings, yet they also fall under the umbrella of Home Care Assistants when they assist with daily living and clinical tasks, similar to the responsibilities of a Home Health Aide, in a home or community-based setting.
Employers must ensure that the scope of the home care worker’s job description is respected, and that any tasks beyond those listed in the job description are compensated for at a higher rate.
The home care worker should not be asked to take on the following tasks, which fall outside of their role:
- Housecleaning beyond the areas where the patient lives.
- Providing care for any other family members.
- Care for pets
Under no circumstances should the care worker be asked to:
- Perform any task that the care worker feels will be a risk to their health and wellbeing, including heavy lifting without the proper equipment or contact with bodily fluids without gloves/masks.
- Carry out any tasks that require a different level of training or certification. (See above)Make modifications to the home, such as installing guardrails or other accessibility aids.Make financial decisions or financial transactions on the patient’s behalf.
- Sign a waiver giving her permission to carry out a task that she knows is illegal for her level of training and certification
Employers/agencies should create a log method for the care worker to document level of care provided each day to help with effective communication between the family members, patient and the care worker.