Healthcare Workers' Struggle for Overtime Continues

Home care professional assisting a man with a walker

Home care workers in Illinois are struggling for the right to overtime pay, and show no signs of giving up. This past January, Governor Rauner ruled against home care workers when he vetoed a bill that would have prevented the state from capping their overtime. The veto comes in response to a U.S. Department of Labor ruling that requires overtime pay for work beyond 40 hours.

The Argument On The Overtime Pay Cap

Rauner claims that allowing Illinois to cap overtime hours for home care workers will save the state money and prevent poor care due to tired workers. Opponents of the bill argue that it doesn’t consider disabled patients, who need more than 40 hours of care a week, and any savings will be spent when these patients are forced into nursing homes.

The fight doesn’t stop there. Laura Byrne, along with three others, is suing Centegra Health System, for the right to overtime pay. The suit claims that employees, including nurses and various therapists, are wrongly exempted from the overtime compensation requirement under the Fair Labor Standards Act and Illinois Minimum Wage Law. The employees pay scheme is a mixture of hourly and per-visit bases, which the plaintiffs argue does not comply with the law. Centegra has denied the claims, while plaintiffs are seeking to add more claimants and gain class action status.

What's The Future Of Overtime Going To Be?

This struggle has been ongoing for years, and neither side is letting up soon. As part of a larger movement in the U.S.  for increased wages, it is a heated debate that many are familiar with. Unfortunately this issue is not only economic, and could have detrimental effects on Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens and the ones we trust to care for them.