Overtime restrictions in Illinois for home health care workers who assist people with disabilities have been halted.
The Rauner administration suspended the restrictions, which the state began enforcing in May, and said Tuesday it intends to use the rule-making process to implement the overtime policy.
"The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) has decided to go through the rule-making process under the Administrative Procedure Act following a recent court decision directing the successful overtime policy be implemented by rule rather than policy," reads a press release from the department.
"On July 21, 2016, Kane County Circuit Court entered a temporary restraining order barring the enforcement of the overtime policy until it has gone through the rule-making process," it adds. "While DHS respectfully disagrees with the Court, DHS will abide by the order and looks forward to the rule-making process where we will have the opportunity to show the positive benefits of the policy and work with all parties involved. The rule-making process allows the Department to hear from all parties before issuing the final rule."
That announcement was made shortly before a class-action lawsuit was going to be filed against the overtime policy by the Chicago chapter of the disability advocacy group ADAPT.
At issue are workers with the Illinois Home Services Program (HSP), which connects people with disabilities to in-home personal attendants.
As part of the IDHS overtime policy, weekly working hours for HSP personal assistants were capped at 40 hours, though there were exceptions. Administration officials argued that the 40-hour workweek limit for HSP workers was needed to control state costs and improve services for program participants.
IDHS' press release states that it "believes the final rule will closely track the policy as it was originally announced."
Disability rights groups and SEIU* Healthcare Illinois spoke out Wednesday about the news.
"In May, Rauner's DHS illegally implemented the policy to begin firing caregivers who worked over 40 hours WITHOUT the public comment period required by law and on July 21, a Kane County judge issued a temporary restraining order against the state's policy," reads an SEIU media release. "The lawsuit the administration faced today, from Chicago ADAPT and three plaintiffs who are people with disabilities from Peoria, Carbondale and Chicago, respectively, would have sought to permanently enjoin the policy statewide.
"From almost the moment the Rauner policy was implemented, people with disabilities and caregivers have suffered terrible hardships."
*The SEIU Illinois Council sponsors this website.