Everything You Need to Know about Illinois Domestic Employment

Nov 1, 2018 | Domestic Workers' Rights, Hiring an Employee, Tax & Wage Laws, Workers' Comp & Insurance

illinois domestic employment

Illinois domestic employment law can confuse even the most organized and tax-savvy families. Here’s what you need to know when employing a nanny in the Prairie State.

With special laws around household employee rights, pregnancy accommodations, and paid sick time as well as an increasing minimum wage, complying with Illinois domestic employment rules and regulations can be a huge hassle for families that hire employees to work in their homes. Even unintentional violations of the state’s labor laws can lead to stiff fines and penalties.

Here’s what a household employer needs to know about Illinois domestic employment.

Minimum Wage

The state’s current minimum wage is $8.25/hour. In Chicago, the minimum wage is $12/hour and Cook County, which includes Chicago, has a minimum wage of $11/hour.

Household employees are required to be paid the highest minimum wage of federal, state, or local rates. The federal rate is $7.25/hour. That means household employees that work in the city of Chicago should be paid at least $12/hour. Elsewhere in Cook County, workers are to be paid at least $11/hour. Employees in the rest of the state, outside of Cook County, are required to be paid at least $8.25/hour.

In July 2019, Chicago’s minimum wage will increase to $13/hour.


The Illinois Overtime Law is similar to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Household workers are considered non-exempt employees and should be paid at least time-and-a-half for hours worked over 40 in a week.

If an employee agrees to work on their required day of rest, they’re entitled to an overtime rate for every hour worked.

Live-in Employees

To be considered a live-in employee, the worker must live at the home (place of employment) for at least five days a week, sleeping on the premises for four consecutive nights.

Live-in employees are not entitled to overtime pay and don’t need to be paid for time spent sleeping, eating, or for personal entertainment if they are completely free from all duties. However, they must be paid for these time periods if they are interrupted to perform work.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

If you employ a household worker for at least 40 hours/week for 13 or more weeks, you are required to have a workers’ compensation policy in place.

Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights

The Illinois Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights took effect on January 1, 2017, and amended four state laws to include household employees who had, to that point, been excluded from basic labor protections.

Household employees who are regularly employed for at least eight hours a week – except for occasional babysitters – are covered by the law. Live-in employees and workers employed by an agency are also included.

Among the law’s provisions for household employees:

  • Paid at least minimum wage
  • Receive at least 24 hours of rest in each calendar week and a 20-minute meal break for every 7 ½ hours worked (One Day Rest in Seven Act)
  • Protected against sexual harassment (Human Rights Act)
  • Prevented from being paid “an oppressive and unreasonable wage” (Wages of Women and Minors Act)

If desired, the employee’s day of rest should coincide with their religion’s weekly day of rest whenever possible.

Pay Period

Household employees must be paid at least twice per month. They should receive their pay no later than 13 days after the pay period ends.

Pregnancy Fairness Law

Household employers need to provide accommodations for pregnant employees and new mothers. The pregnancy accommodation law, also known as the Illinois Pregnancy Fairness Law, requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodations for an employee with conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, if she so requests, with the advice of her health care provider. Learn more about what reasonable accommodations may include.

Chicago Paid Sick Leave

Household employers in Chicago must provide paid sick leave to their employees. Workers can accrue and use up to 5 paid sick days (or 40 hours) per year, earned at a minimum rate of one hour for every 40 hours worked. Accrual begins on the first day of employment. Up to 20 hours of unused sick time may roll over to the next year. However, employers can limit sick time usage to 40 hours per year. They can also restrict a new employee’s use of paid sick leave until they have completed six full months of continuous employment.

Employees can use paid sick leave if:

  • they are ill or injured or need to receive medical care
  • they are caring for an ill or injured family member, or a family member receiving medical care
  • they are a domestic violence or sex offense victim
  • their workplace or their child’s school/childcare facility is closed due to a public health emergency.

If you already have a paid sick leave policy that meets or exceeds the required accrual rates, you do not need to create a new or separate plan to adhere to the city’s law.

New Employer SUI Rate

Illinois household employers are required to carry unemployment insurance. The new employer state unemployment insurance (SUI) tax rate that all employers pay when they first become employers is 3.45% percent of wages. Families that had employees previously may be subject to a different rate.

Taxable Wage Base

In Illinois, the taxable wage base is $12,960. This is the maximum income amount for which employees must pay Social Security taxes.

GTM Can Help with Illinois Domestic Employment

Hiring a household employee in Illinois or have questions about complying with the state’s tax, wage, and labor laws? Get a free, no-obligation consultation with a household employment expert at (800) 929-9213. It’s important to get nanny taxes and payroll done right to avoid fines and penalties for violating the law.

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