- Some traditionally low-paid workers in Illinois — domestic workers such as nannies and housekeepers — will be getting some new minimum wage and basic human rights protections in 2017, according to the Chicago Tribune.
- Called the Illinois Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, the new law amends four existing state laws to include domestic workers, one of several groups excluded from basic labor protections and especially vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, the Tribune reported.
- Amended federal labor laws over time had wiped out the domestic worker exclusion on the state level. Those workers today are covered by federal minimum wage and overtime protections, but the state law offers added protections.
"This is really historic because the exclusion of domestic workers from federal and state employment laws has an unfortunate history in slavery and anti-immigrant sentiment," Wendy Pollack, founder and director of the Women's Law and Policy Project at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, told the Tribune. That organization is within a larger coalition that had pushed for these changes over the past five years.
According to the new law, starting Jan. 1, domestic workers will be covered by Illinois' Minimum Wage Law, which requires workers be paid at least $8.25 an hour. It also requires employers to follow the One Day Rest in Seven Act, which requires employees to receive at least 24 hours of rest in each calendar week and a meal period of 20 minutes for every seven-and-a-half hour shift. The Tribune reports that the workers also will be covered by the Illinois Human Rights Act (sexual harassment protection) and the Wages of Women and Minors Act (prohibits employers from paying women and minors "an oppressive and unreasonable wage.")
Illinois is the seventh state to adopt domestic worker protections, according to the Tribune. Of course, employers whose workforce includes domestic workers in Illinois need to spend some time checking their wage and hour policies, to make sure they adhere to the state's new law.