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Silverstein extends work, wage rights for domestic workers

Silverstein domesticA measure sponsored by State Senator Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) to establish provisions for overtime, wages, days off and other protections for Illinois domestic workers passed in the Senate Executive Committee today.

Dubbed the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, House Bill 1288 defines what constitutes domestic work and expands rights for this class of workers from which they are now exempt. Four state laws would be amended to include domestic workers: The Minimum Wage Law, The Illinois Human Rights Act, The One Day Rest in Seven Act and The Wages of Women and Minors Act.

“Domestic workers are struggling to provide for their families and current law makes their struggle more difficult, and unfair,” said Senator Silverstein. “They play an important role in Illinois’ economy but their value has been overlooked compared to other workers. Domestic workers deserve the same rights and protections as all working people in Illinois.”

Domestic workers are defined in HB 1288 to include workers in homes performing house cleaning, caring for children, ill or older family members, laundry, cooking or other home tasks.

According to proponents who include the Sargent Shriver Center on Poverty Law, Women Employed, and labor and immigrant rights, 23% of domestic workers are paid below minimum wage and 58% of live-in workers are required to work during their scheduled time off.

“Their work is vital to families' homes, but they are often exploited. They continue to work because they need the money and have no recourse,” said Wendy Pollack, founder and director of the Women's Law and Policy Project at the Shriver Center.

House Bill 1288 was passed by the Illinois House in late May. The Senate Executive Committee approved it this afternoon; it now awaits action by the full Senate.

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