Chicago is one of the first major cities in the country to require employers to provide contracts to domestic workers.
The new law entered into force on January 1. It aims to give nannies, caregivers and housekeepers fair wages and better working conditions.
Magdalena Zylinska has been a health care aide in Chicago since the 1990s, after leaving Poland for America. In an interview, she told NBC 5 that her responsibilities as a caregiver and housekeeper were not what she made – sometimes only $ 2-3 an hour.
At one point, her employer was able to add responsibilities without proper compensation and without a workload debate.
“I have to adapt to the situation because we didn’t have a written contract,” Zylinska said. “It’s our main source of income. So, of course, we’re freaked out.”
Zylinska said she felt she had little to say about how many hours she worked per week, fearing that she would be made redundant.
“People try to tell you it’s okay because you don’t have papers. No it’s not okay,” Zylinska said.
As of Jan. 1, the Chicago Department of Labor Standards has required employers to provide domestic workers with a contract in their primary language that includes rate of pay, shifts and clear responsibilities. These workers must be paid a minimum wage of at least $ 15 an hour.
According to the Shriver Center on Poverty Law, employers who violate these terms or retaliate can face fines of up to $ 500 per violation.
“The contract gives us some sort of security,” Zylinska said. “It gives us the structure that other workers have that we never had.”
For years, Arise Chicago has strived to secure rights for domestic workers. They are now hosting webinars and providing contract templates that workers can use to get started.
You can find these resources by clicking here.
You can also call Arise Chicago at the following hotlines for assistance: