For Households

If you bring a domestic worker into your home, here are important rules and guidelines to create a safe, fair and equitable workplace

In Chicago, you must pay at least minimum wage ($15/hour) starting August 1, 2021.

Paying a Reasonable Wage: Domestic workers are covered by the Wages for Women and Minors Act which means they are entitled to a wage that is fairly and reasonable commensurate with the value of the services or class of service rendered.

Employers of domestic workers must keep and preserve records for each domestic worker under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Basic records that an employer must maintain include:

  • Employee's full name and social security number;
  • Home address, including zip code;
  • Hours worked each workday and total hours worked each workweek;
  • Total cash wages paid each week to the employee by the employer;
  • Weekly sums claimed by the employer for board, lodging or other facilities; and
  • Extra pay for weekly hours worked in excess of 40 by the employee for the employer. 

In Chicago, if your domestic worker works for you for at least 80 hours over four months, you must provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked.

Paid time off has many benefits for YOU and the domestic worker in your home:

  • improved productivity
  • fewer workplace injuries
  • reduced spread of illness on the job
  • less turnover
  • Employees and their families would gain more stable income and improved employment security
  • Reduced contagion
  • Fewer on-the-job injuries
  • More timely treatment for illnesses
  • Increased use of preventive care
  • Improved family health.

Under the City’s Anti-Retaliation Ordinance, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees for obeying an order issued by the Mayor, Governor, Chicago Department of Public Health, or healthcare provider having to do with COVID-19.

Employers are also prohibited from taking any adverse action against an employee for caring for someone who has been issued certain orders having to do with COVID-19. For more information on the ordinance, see BACP’s FAQs.

As of January 1, 2022, employers must provide a written contract to their household worker(s) that sets forth the wage and work schedule. The contract must be in the domestic workers primary language as requested by the worker.

Clear, transparent expectations generate higher quality work.

These guidelines help to develop good work agreements:

  • Nannies should have the opportunity to review and weigh in on the terms of the work agreement before it is signed.  This includes providing the nanny with ample time for review.
  • An environment of collaboration and dialogue should be created to ensure that the terms of the work agreement are mutually agreeable. 
  • The work agreement should be available and reviewable in a language in which the worker is fluent in order for it to be enforceable. 
  • Work agreements should be reviewed and signed in person, rather than over the phone. 
  • Completed work agreements should include the signature of the worker, employer and a witness.
  • The agreements may not contain mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clauses for employee claims of their legal rights, non-compete agreements, or non-disparagement agreements limiting the ability of domestic workers to seek domestic work post-employment.

Contracts should be reviewed annually and when there is a change to the job description or scope of work (e.g. a birth of another child, additional household chores/tasks).

Sample ContractsWhen employing a domestic worker, it is highly recommended that you have a contract that outlines expectations of the worker as well as you as the employer.  

Another key component of having clear, written expectations is setting reliable schedules. The following guidelines will help your family to prepare schedules for your domestic worker:

  • Scheduling shifts for no less than 4 hours per day (specific to nannies)
  • Ensuring that shifts end on time.
  • Having a back-up care plan in place in the case that end-of-shift plans change, and also in the case that the nanny is sick and unable to work. (specific to nannies)
  • Continuing to pay the domestic worker at the regular rate of pay and for regular hours during any times when work is interrupted because the family is on vacation or not in need of the domestic worker’s services for other reasons. 
  • Provide at least 3 days notice when requesting a change in the domestic worker’s work hours for a particular day.
  • Doing a review of the work agreement and putting new terms into writing in consultation with the nanny when requesting permanent changes to the schedule.

 

Domestic workers are professionals and should be treated as such:

  • At times when the domestic worker is required to take the child(ren) in her care out of the home, she must be provided with petty cash that will enable her to access indoor spaces and bathroom facilities as needed. (specific to nannies/home health aides)
  • Not use surveillance technology (audio and/or video) in the workplace without the domestic worker’s express permission. Under no circumstances will surveillance cameras or audio recording devices be placed in bathrooms, in the domestic worker’s private living quarters (in the case of live-in workers), or any other location where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy. 
  • The worker’s documents or personal items should not be kept or taken by the employer
  • The domestic worker’s personal information should not be shared publicly
  • Discuss use of social media for both the domestic worker and household members. Is your worker comfortable with you posting pictures of them with your children/family? Are you comfortable with your domestic worker posting photos of your home/family on their own social media platforms?

Creating a safe work place is critical:

  • Ensure that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in good working order
  • Fire extinguishers in working order, and instructions on how to use them
  • Access to emergency contacts who will be available during the domestic worker’s work hours
  • Access to a comprehensive first aid kit and emergency preparedness kit
  • Awareness of the location of emergency exits
  • Awareness of the family’s emergency preparedness plans, including where to meet in case of an emergency or natural disaster. 
  • Covering the cost of the CPR certification if the certificate expires
  • Access to keys so that the nanny is able to enter and leave the home as needed. 
  • Access to home alarm codes. 

Households must adopt a zero tolerance policy for verbal, physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and take swift action should their domestic worker feel unsafe at any time. 

Employers should provide the following protections against sexual harassment on the job. These measures must be put in writing, included in the work agreement/personnel policies, and made visible to all adults in the home where the work is to be performed. 

  • Notifying the worker if any other adults will be in the home during work time
  • Respecting the worker’s work space and ensuring that other adults in the home give adequate space for the worker to perform their duties without the feeling of being watched
  • Ensuring that all adults are fully and appropriately clothed 
  • Making sure that personal or intimate objects are not left out
  • Not sending the worker unnecessary or inappropriate texts or phone calls, both during and after work hours.
  • Notifying the worker in advance if she will need to open the door for visitors. 

Take extra precautions due to COVID19:

  • Provide personal protective equipment such as a mask and gloves
  • Provide safety equipment and non-toxic cleaning supplies (or offer to pay for these)
  • Limit the number of non-household member visitors to reduce risk of exposure/spreading of the virus
  • Ensure everyone in the household is wearing a mask if adequate social distancing cannot take place
  • Consider back up care plans in case someone in your home is ill or your domestic worker becomes sick
  • If someone in the household is sick, you should notify your domestic worker before the time they leave for work and offer to pay in lieu of work .
  • Employers cannot deduct from wages or require reimbursement from domestic workers for cash shortages or items broken in the home.
  • Provide access to kitchen utilities and appliances so they can prepare their own food/meals

Household Tool Box


Frequently Asked Questions

It is uncommon for domestic workers to be classified as an independent contractor, even if they are hired from an agency. The difference between an employee and an independent contractor is that an employee is not in control of the work and the workplace, and instead defers to the employer’s decisions on when and how the work will be conducted. An independent contractor is hired on an as-needed basis, and has complete control of their work and environment.

To further determine whether the domestic worker you have hired is classified as an employee or an independent contractor, run through this list of questions:

  • Does the domestic worker set their own hours of service?
  • Does the domestic worker offer services from their own home?
  • Does the domestic worker provide the supplies for their work in your home?
  • Does the domestic worker offer to serve the general public?
  • Does the domestic worker control how the work is done?
  • Does the domestic worker have the ability to hire and pay assistants without reimbursements?
  • Does the agency control what work is done and how it is done?

If you answered YES to multiple of these questions, you may be hiring an independent contractor. Learn more.  If no, you are responsible for upholding the rights of the worker.

 

The same independent contractor analysis from the question above applies. The difference between an employee and an independent contractor is that an employee is not in control of the work and the workplace, and instead defers to the employer’s decisions on when and how the work will be conducted. An independent contractor is hired on an as needed basis, and has complete control of their work and environment.

You should provide face coverings to your domestic worker and ensure that all individuals in your household are wearing them when a 6-foot distance cannot be maintained. Executive Order 2020-32 requires any person over 2 years of age to wear a face covering when in a public place and unable to maintain a 6-foot social distance. Face coverings also are required in public indoor spaces, such as grocery or drug stores. Exceptions may be made for individuals with medical conditions or disabilities that prevent them from safely wearing a face covering.

Yes. Under the Chicago Minimum Wage, you are required to pay minimum wage and overtime. 

See https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/Pages/household_worker_taxes.aspx

Anyone who pays a nanny, housekeeper, home health aide or other household employee to work in their home is a household employer. Household employers can file their unemployment insurance contributions annually with IDES. The new "Return for Household Employers - Unemployment Contributions" (UI-HA; see below) will be mailed to current household annual filers. This form is not to be used for Illinois Department of Revenue payments.​

Steps to Pay
​​                If you qualify as a household employer and want to pay your taxes once a year, follow these         steps:

Withholding State Income Tax

  • In Illinois, generally, you must withhold Illinois income tax for your domestic worker if you withhold federal income tax or if you enter into a voluntary withholding agreement with a worker. In order to file correctly, we encourage you to see the Illinois requirements for tax withholding for household employees.
  • Forms W-2 reporting income and withholding for household employees reported on Form IL-1040 are not subject to the electronic filing mandate. However, if you report household employee income and withholding on Form IL-941, you are subject to the electronic filing mandate. See Publication 121 for more information.
  • For further information regarding tax and reporting obligations from the Illinois Department of Revenue, see: https://www2.illinois.gov/rev/questionsandanswers/Pages/934.aspx

Under Illinois law (820 ILCS 105/8), you must maintain "and keep for a period of not less than 3 years, true and accurate records of the name, address and occupation of each of his employees, the rate of pay, and the amount paid each pay period to each employee, the hours worked each day in each work week by each employee."

 

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