Ho-ho-NO: Ominous Holidays in Store for People with Disabilities as Caregivers Face Suspensions Under Draconian Rauner OT Policy

Illegally-implemented rules threaten workforce, cause anxiety, threaten bankruptcies and homelessness as promises made go unmet

Chicago – Exactly as advocates have warned for two years, the Rauner administration’s illegally implemented overtime policy for the DHS Home Services Program for people with disabilities has disrupted care, stripped consumers of choice, dignity and independence and placed unnecessary strain on the caregiving program that advocates have worked decades to build and strengthen.

The coming weeks, heading into the holidays, will reveal whether the Rauner administration will go forward with a key piece of its punitive plan and suspend workers (effectively terminating them) as part of a “three-strikes-and-you’re-out” scheme.

Many of these workers, already at or near poverty, say they are facing personal bankruptcy or losing their homes or cars if they are suspended. Reports of caregivers continuing to work above the overtime cap but not submitting their hours for pay to avoid penalties under the policy are also rampant.

SEIU Healthcare Illinois, Access Living, and Chicago ADAPT on Thursday, November 30, released the following statement calling on the Rauner administration to halt the harmful overtime policy:

“The Rauner administration is poised to deliver a third and fatal round of discipline to caregivers in violation of the illegal policy, resulting in three-month suspensions, any day now. This action, which will do the same work as firing these poverty-level workers, will destabilize our care system in Illinois for people with disabilities, limit their dignity and independence and displace dedicated caregivers in a program already struggling with high turnover.

“While the State presses on with the harmful “three-strikes-and-you’re-out” discipline, local HSP offices remain unequipped to answer the most basic questions or offer support to those trying to navigate the confusing policy. The Rauner administration STILL has yet to provide the promised-for counseling for those in violation of the policy and for the hundreds of caregivers who have received multiple disciplinary “occurrences” and have no means to appeal.

“Suspending caregivers just ahead of the holiday season will leave people with disabilities stranded with nowhere to turn and likely will result in many of the suspended caregivers working without pay. This is unconscionable and can be prevented.

“Enough is enough. Until the ameliorative promises made to advocates to try and fix the consequences of this bad policy can be fulfilled, the overtime implementation should be halted and disciplinary “occurrences” should be rescinded.”


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