New Chicago Ordinance Requires Written Contract for Domestic

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By Ty Stradling

Do you use the services of a housekeeper, nanny, or other domestic worker? If so, you need to be aware of a Chicago city ordinance that recently went into effect. You may have heard about a law that took effect last August (2021), setting a $15 minimum wage for domestic workers. However, a new City of Chicago ordinance went into effect in January of this year (2022). Under this new law, in addition to the $15 minimum wage, anyone who employs a domestic worker in Chicago must provide a written contract that includes the worker’s wage and work schedule. 

This ordinance applies to anyone who employs someone to work in their home for any of the following reasons:

•             childcare

•             eldercare

•             home health services for those with illness, injury, or disability

•             housekeeping

•             cleaning

•             laundering

•             cooking

•             chauffeuring

•             other household services

The new ordinance applies to all domestic workers, regardless of their immigration status, how many hours they work, how many other employers they work for, or how many employees work for you. This ordinance does not include a person performing domestic work for a member of their immediate family.

What should I do if I employ a domestic worker?

The ordinance requires you to provide a written contract in the worker’s preferred language which lays out the worker’s wages and work schedule.  Anyone who does not provide a written contract could be fined $500 for each offense. The contract should be reviewed and signed by you, your employee, and a witness. You should provide your employee with a printed and electronic copy of the contract as well as keep a copy for your own records.  You should review the contract every year or when there is a change to the job description or scope of work such as the birth of another child. Although the new law affects only Chicago residents, it makes sense to have a signed contract in place even if you live outside of the City limits.

The City of Chicago has provided contract templates, but we strongly caution against using these. The templates go beyond what the ordinance requires. By using the templates, you may unintentionally agree to unnecessary provisions in the contract and will be held responsible for these additional contractual obligations.  It is important to include language in the contract that preserves the at-will employment status and provides the necessary flexibility to accommodate fluctuations in your needs.

If you have any questions about whether this law applies to you, or would like assistance in complying with this ordinance, please contact the professionals at Anthony J. Madonia & Associates, Ltd. to see how our team can help you.