Decades after the passage of the 1938 federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which excluded domestic workers and was mimicked by many states, Illinois has become the sixth state to pass a comprehensive Domestic Workers Bill of Rights and the seventh state to extend rights to domestic workers, joining Massachusetts, California, New York, Oregon, Hawaii, and Connecticut. The law took effect on Jan. 1, 2017.

Why the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights ​is Good for

Good for Workers 

Establishes labor standards that protect domestic workers’ basic workplace rights, including meal and rest breaks, clarity on what constitutes working time, sick time to care for themselves and their families, and freedom from discrimination and sexual harassment.

Good for Employers 

Ensures that employers receive the highest quality of care for their families and homes by affording domestic workers dignity and respect. Reduces turnover by providing greater stability for workers, and improves the health and safety of employers and their families by protecting domestic workers’ health.

Good for Commonwealth 

Provides domestic workers with safe and dignified work environments and employers with clear guidelines on their responsibilities that will bring domestic workers out of the shadows. Protecting domestic workers also protects the safety of our communities, ensures the health and well-being of the families of domestic workers, and strengthens the state economy by freeing up more individuals to participate in the paid workforce.

More About the Bill 

“This moment marks a great victory. Most importantly, we now we can come out of the shadows, to end injustice and abuse,” said Isabel Escobar, a housecleaner from Chicago and worker leader from Arise Chicago. “The struggle was long, but we won the most difficult part of the journey!”

“After many trips to Springfield to advocate for the Illinois Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, I am so happy that domestic workers have been recognized under the law!” said Magdalena Zylinska, a housecleaner from Chicago and worker leader from Arise Chicago.

The new law, sponsored by Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-8th District) in the Senate and Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez (D-24th District) in the House, gives nannies, housecleaners, home care workers, and other domestic workers the same employment protections as workers in other industries by amending four state laws that currently exclude them. This includes the Minimum Wage Law, the Illinois Human Rights Act, the One Day of Rest in Seven Act, and the Wages of Women and Minors Act.

The new law ensures that all domestic workers receive the state minimum wage, protection against sexual harassment, as well as a day of rest for workers employed by one employer for at least 20 hours a week.

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