New Chicago Ordinance Ensures Better Protection to Domestic Workers

November 1, 2021

Historically, domestic workers have been excluded from protection under state and federal law. Over the past few years, the federal government, Illinois and many other states and cities have sought to change that. “Domestic work” can include services such as housekeeping, house cleaning, home management, nanny services, caregiving, laundering, cooking, companion services, chauffeuring and numerous other types of household services.

Beginning on January 1, 2022, all domestic workers in Chicago should be provided a written contract that covers the hours to be worked, wages and job responsibilities. This written contract must be provided in the domestic worker’s primary language if requested by the domestic worker. Any employer who does not provide the written contract can be subjected to a fine of $500 per violation. The written contract does not require a change to the domestic worker’s “at-will” employment status.

As of August 1, 2021, all domestic workers in Chicago must earn a minimum wage of $15 per hour. This is substantially higher than the statewide minimum wage of $11 per hour. Domestic workers in Chicago are also entitled to paid sick leave if they work for at least 80 hours over a 120-day period for one employer. These employees accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked and can accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick leave over a 12-month period.

Throughout Illinois, domestic workers are entitled to overtime if they work more than 40 hours in one week. If a domestic worker works at least 20 hours a week for one employer, the worker cannot be forced to work seven days in a row and has the right to an unpaid day off. Additionally, domestic workers must receive a 20-minute break for every 7.5 hours worked.

If you have any questions about these requirements or need assistance in preparing a domestic worker employment contract, please do not hesitate to contact any of the attorneys in GCT’s Employment Law Practice Group.

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