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Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Passes Illinois Senate

Contact: Michelle Nicolet, Marketing Director

CHICAGO —Domestic workers in Illinois, including housekeepers, nannies and home care workers, came one step closer to securing basic employment rights and protections when HB 1288 passed the Illinois Senate by 53 votes on May 11, 2016. The bill passed the Illinois House last year.

Sponsored by Senator Ira Silverstein (D–Chicago) in the Senate and Representative Elizabeth Hernandez (D-Chicago) in the House, HB 1288 establishes a definition for domestic work and amends four state laws that currently exclude domestic workers: The Minimum Wage Law, The Illinois Human Rights Act, The One Day Rest in Seven Act, and The Wages of Women and Minors Act.

By extending these laws to cover domestic workers, HB 1288 would grant them the right to the state minimum wage, to be paid for all work hours, to one day of rest per week for workers that work for one employer more than 20 hours a week, and to protection from sexual harassment on the job.

The Shriver Center is proud to have provided advocacy leadership along with domestic workers and other labor, immigrant and anti-poverty organizations across the state in this important victory for thousands of working Illinoisans.

“The rights and dignity of domestic workers have been ignored for far too long. Today’s passage marks more than four years of effort to ensure that domestic workers are guaranteed the same protections as most other working people in Illinois,” said Wendy Pollack, founder and director of the Women's Law and Policy Project at the Shriver Center. “We need one more vote in the House of Representatives, and then HB 1288 can be sent to the Governor for his signature. Once he receives the bill, Governor Rauner should sign this bill into law immediately for the benefit of the Illinois economy. It’s time to professionalize the profession.”

Domestic workers play a critical role in the Illinois economy, working to ensure the health and prosperity of Illinois families and freeing others to work outside the home. They care for the elderly, clean homes, and nurture children. Their contributions often go unnoticed, but they make it possible for the entire workforce to be more productive.

Despite the value of their work, domestic workers have historically been excluded from protections under laws extended to workers in other industries. This has led to a workforce, predominantly composed of women supporting their own families, that is isolated and vulnerable.

“Though it is often done in the shadows, domestic work is a growing industry in the U.S. economy. These basic protections and rights are crucial for strong Illinois families, for a strong Illinois economy, and for a strong Illinois future,” Pollack added.

The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights passed the Illinois House of Representatives last May. The bill is now back to the House for a concurrence vote. Once passed, it will be sent to the Governor to sign HB 1288 into law so that domestic workers are able to support themselves, their families, and the broader Illinois economy.

The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law provides national leadership in advancing laws and policies that secure justice to improve the lives and opportunities of people living in poverty. We specialize in practical solutions. We advocate for and serve clients directly, while also building the capacity of the nation’s legal aid providers to advance justice and opportunity for their clients.

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