Type: Law Bulletins
Date: 01/10/2019

Are Your Employment Policies for Illinois Employees 2019 Compliant?

A variety of changes in state law recently became effective. Have you addressed all of them? Here is a checklist of changes in Illinois employment laws that may affect your workplace:  

  • Paid Breaks for Nursing Mothers in the Workplace: In 2018, the Illinois legislature modified the Illinois Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act to require employers with more than five employees to provide paid break time to employees for the purpose of expressing breast milk. Employers should review their current lactation and break policies to ensure compliance. Further detail is available here.
  • Illinois Service Members: Illinois employees serving in the military are now protected by the Illinois Service Member Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. Further detail is available here. Employers should review their policies governing military leave to ensure compliance, and should post the required notice, available here.
  • Wage Disparities: The Illinois legislature amended the Illinois Equal Pay Act to address wage disparities between African-American employees and non-African-American employees. Further detail is available here. Employers should review employee compensation across demographic groups to ensure compliance.
  • Employee Reimbursement Policies: Changes to the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act now require employers to reimburse employees for “all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee within the employee’s scope of employment and directly related to service performed by the employer.” To limit potential exposure for unapproved expenses, employers should implement written reimbursement policies. Further detail is available here.
  • Changes in the Illinois Human Rights Act: Employees now have 300 days (as opposed to 180 days in the past) to file a charge with the Illinois Department of Human Rights. In addition, employees may now opt out of the administrative process and file a lawsuit in state court before there is any administrative investigation into their charge of discrimination.
  • New Office for Chicago Employment Ordinances: The City of Chicago now has a new office, the Office for Labor Standards (“OLS”) for enforcing city ordinances relating to employment, including the Anti-Wage Theft Ordinance, the Minimum Wage Ordinance and the Paid Sick Leave Ordinance.
  • Harassment Policies for Contractors with State of Illinois: Effective January 1, 2019, Public Act 100-0698 took effect, requiring companies submitting bids or offers for a contract the State of Illinois to have a sexual harassment policy; such policy must be provided to the State agency upon request. 

What else can you expect from 2019? Additional topics we see on the horizon for employers in 2019 include:  

  • Minimum Wage Increase in Chicago and Cook County: The minimum wage in Chicago increases to $13 per hour effective July 1, 2019.  In addition, the Cook County minimum wage increases to $12 per hour. Employers should also be on the lookout for a potential statewide increase in the minimum wage with J.B. Pritzker taking office.
  • Recreational Marijuana Use Legislation: Illinois Governor-Elect Pritzker and Illinois House Speaker Madigan have announced their support for fast-track legislation to legalize recreational use of marijuana by adults in Illinois. While the impact of such potential legislation on Illinois employers is unclear, any legalized recreational use of marijuana likely would complicate Illinois workplaces.
  • Use of Biometric Information: The Illinois Supreme Court soon will be issuing an opinion regarding Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). BIPA is the most stringent biometric privacy state law in the nation and has spawned several class action lawsuits against employers regarding the collection and disclosure of biometric data (e.g., retina and fingerprint scanners). The court’s opinion should help resolve the question of who is entitled to bring a claim under BIPA as an “aggrieved party.” Further detail is available here.
  • Predictable Workweek Legislation: Keep a lookout for potential legislation governing predictable workweeks for employees, a nationwide trend that could catch on locally.
  • Use of Prior Salary History: Illinois lawmakers may also revisit a possible prohibition on pay history inquiries, a measure that was previously vetoed by Governor Rauner. Further detail is available here

Need assistance with your employment policies? Feel free to contact Taft’s Illinois Labor and Employment attorneys with any questions, or to review or update your employment policies.

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