Domestic workers

Chicago domestic workers’ mandate protects social workers

Elisa Sledzinska
[email protected]

CHICAGO – Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Business and Consumer Protection (BACP) today announced a historic step forward for Chicago domestic workers. As of January 1, 2022, all Chicago employers of nannies, caregivers, and housekeepers must provide their employees with a written contract in the language of their choice. The contract must include the wages and working hours agreed between the employer and the domestic worker. This mandate ensures accountability, transparency and predictability for domestic workers so that they can plan for themselves and their families.

“I grew up watching my mom work hard, day in and day out, as a home helper so that others can live their lives,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “That’s why I know domestic workers are the backbone of this city and deserve to be protected. With this mandate, we will continue to provide these protections by making Chicago the largest city in the country that requires a contract. written for domestic workers and domestic workers. “

“Domestic workers should be treated with dignity and respect in the workplace,” said BACP Commissioner Kenneth J. Meyer. “Requiring written contracts recognizes the invaluable contributions social workers make to Chicago families.”

Employers of domestic care work are responsible for creating a safe, fair and equitable workplace. The new mandate means that all Chicago employers of domestic workers must provide their workers with a written contract in their primary language, at the worker’s request, regardless of their status as an employee or independent contractor. A domestic worker includes anyone whose primary duties include housekeeping, nanny services, nursing, personal care, or home health services.

An environment of collaboration and dialogue must be created to ensure that the terms of the working agreement are mutually acceptable. The contract must be reviewed and signed in person by the worker, the employer and a witness. The contract may be printed or provided in a printable communication in physical or electronic format, such as an email. Contracts should be reviewed annually and when there is a change in job description or scope of work (eg birth of another child, extra household chores). Clear and transparent expectations generate better quality work. Sample contracts are available by visiting

“Domestic workers are a vital part of our society and our economy,” said Andrew Fox, director of BACP’s Bureau of Labor Standards. “We will continue to fight to defend and protect their rights. “

“The contracts are an important milestone in contributing to changes and improvements for domestic workers and raising awareness among employers,” said Beatriz Tlalolini, nanny and member of Arise Chicago. “A contract sets out in writing the responsibilities and obligations of the employer and the worker and offers the possibility of renegotiating and modifying the agreement according to any changes or the needs of the employer or employee.

In 2021, the BACP and the Chicago Foundation for Women invested $ 100,000 in Arise Chicago to support outreach and education efforts for domestic workers, ensuring that information about these workplace protections is widely disseminated.

There are over 56,000 caregivers in the Chicagoland region who are predominantly women of color and immigrants. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of home and personal care aides is expected to increase 33% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.

This mandate is a pillar of Mayor Lightfoot’s anti-poverty agenda and serves as a call to action for employers of social workers to commit to four actions: 1) paying a living and living wage; 2) offer paid time off; 3) have written expectations that are clear and mutually agreed upon; and 4) maintain safe workplaces. To raise awareness and take action, the Your home is someone’s workplace A campaign has been launched to elevate social workers (e.g. housekeepers, nannies and home care assistants) as professionals deserving of better working conditions, dignity and respect. Through the Your home is someone’s workplace campaign, employers and social workers can find information, resources and guidelines on creating safe workplaces at

All Chicago worker protections are enforced by the BACP Office of Labor Standards (OLS). The OLS is dedicated to the promotion and enforcement of Chicago’s labor laws, including the minimum wage, paid sick leave, the fair work week, and the wage theft ordinance. Since its launch in early 2020, OLS has collected over $ 1,000,000 for workers and fined over 100 companies, with fines totaling nearly $ 200,000. Any employer who does not provide the written contract is liable to a fine.

If domestic workers are denied a contract, they can email [email protected] or call 312-744-2211. OLS can help guide employees through the complaint process and work to remedy any violations they have suffered.

The development of a written contract for domestic workers was based on a recommendation from the Mayor’s Worker Protection Working Group (PWWG). The PWWG brings together agencies at all levels of government with community organizations to advise the City on how to deal with industries, such as domestic work, that are ripe for exploitation and human trafficking. The PWWG is co-chaired by the Mayor’s Office and OLS and aligns with the Mayor’s Poverty Alleviation Agenda. In 2021, the PWWG, the mayor’s office, and the OLS collaborated to shape worker protections under the Chi Biz Strong Orders, which included the very first wage theft protections for all workers and increased the minimum wage for all domestic workers at $ 15 / hour in August. 1, 2021.

Caregivers and employers can visit for more information on worker rights and protection.