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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Overtime Rules for Illinois Home Services Program Threaten Independence of People with Disabilities on May 1st

We received many concerns over the last few weeks on Illinois Home Services Program (HSP) and limit our personal assistants a cap of a 40 hour work week (which accomplishes no overtime pay) from many people and organizations, our colleagues at Access Living, Center for Independent Living in Chicago shared the Action Alert posted below (TY). Please take a few moments to Take Action at the secure links below, Please share this post, and as always TY! Jim at Ability Chicago Info

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Overtime Guidelines in Illinois: Take Action and Share a Story

Take Action
The Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) is still moving forward with plans to implement and enforce guidelines for the new U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Overtime Rules. These threaten to weaken the Illinois Home Services Program (HSP) and threaten the independence of people with disabilities in the program. 

DHS intends to begin enforcing these guidelines on May 1, 2016

This week, please contact Governor Rauner and DHS Secretary Jim Dimas. Tell them you are concerned that the HSP overtime implementation guidelines threaten the independence of people with disabilities and also threaten personal assistants who work for HSP. Urge the Governor and Secretary Dimas to eliminate the 40-Hour Cap and to institute a no-cap policy. Use this link to send a quick email to them, and use this link to call them up.

Under the new DOL rules, personal assistants in the Illinois Home Services Program who work more than 40 hours a week should be paid time and a half.  Personal assistants also will be paid for travel time.  These new rules could potentially strengthen HSP because overtime is an incentive that will help attract and sustain committed employees.

Yet, Illinois’ proposed implementation guidelines contradict the intent of the overtime rules and could devastate the lives of people that utilize the program.

Click on this link for just one example of a family that would be impacted by the guidelines.

Originally, the guidelines were scheduled to be enforced starting on January 1, 2016. Around the first of the year, the date was changed to March 1, and now the new enforcement date is May 1.

Among other things, the guidelines:
*           Cap the number of hours an individual provider works for one consumer at 35. This will force consumers to have to seek additional providers.
*           Institute a 40-Hour Cap for Individual Providers. This will force personal assistants to reduce their hours, threatening their livelihood
*           Implement unrealistic qualifications for overtime. Customers can only qualify to approve overtime only if they have “Being Alone” hours in their Service Plan and at least one of the three follow additional qualifications: a) a DON score of more than 70, b) an Exceptional Care Rate and/or c) a court ordered service plan. Of the roughly 30,000 customers in the program, only about 1,100 have “Being Alone” hours in their Service Plan.

Again, please contact Governor Rauner and Secretary Dimas this week. Tell them to eliminate the cap on overtime hours and urge them to work with the disability community on a solution that doesn’t threaten Home Services consumers or personal assistants.

One way to have overtime approved is in the case of an “emergency.” Under the new guidelines, Illinois has listed a clear explanation of what justifies an emergency. Yet, Illinois’ interpretation of an emergency does not reflect the reality of the emergencies that people in the Home Services Program have to navigate on a consistent basis.

Over the course of the program, probably hundreds of customers have asked their personal assistants an extra hour or two because of some sort of emergency. The emergencies that customers face on a week to week basis may not fit the State definition of an emergency. 

We’d like to hear your story.  Using this link, please share tell us about a time that a personal assistant worked extra hours for you for reasons that would not be approved under the State proposed definition of “emergency.” Please share your story. With your story, we can continue to build the case for why Illinois needs to eliminate the cap on overtime.

Thank you for your support!

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