On January 1, 2022, Illinois’ amendment to the Illinois Freedom to Work Act (IFWA) will take effect. The amended statute will render unenforceable non-compete agreements with employees earning less than $75,000 annually.
January 2021 – Under the new law, the minimum wage will increase to $11 per hour on January 1, 2021.
That amount will continue to expand on an annual basis until it reaches $15 per hour on January 1, 2025. Please be aware of the Hourly Minimum Rate in Illinois. Click here for information and details from the Illinois Department of Labor.
Race to $15 – Minimum Wage Increase — Illinois Department of Labor Issues Minimum Wage Hike Reminder Press Release
Illinois became the fifth state to join the “Race to $15” and pass a minimum wage increase under which Illinois’ minimum wage will reach $15 per hour by 2025. Effective January 1, 2020, Illinois’ new minimum wage is $9.25 per hour, followed by an additional increase to $10 per hour effective July 1, 2020. The statewide minimum wage continues to increase by $1 on July 1 of each subsequent year so the minimum wage will be $11 per hour in 2021; $12 per hour in 2022: $13 per hour in 2023; $14 per hour in 2024; and $15 per hour in 2025. The statewide minimum wage increase preserves a lower rate available for tipped workers and for teen workers (under 18) meeting certain requirements. Small employers (under 50 employees) also have tax credits available to help offset the actual costs of complying with the minimum wage increases that will be available through 2025.
Chicago employers should be aware of a pending municipal ordinance that would accelerate the minimum wage increase from $13 per hour (effective July 1, 2020) to $15 per hour by July 1, 2021.
Employers should review job descriptions and postings and ensure all positions meet these new requirements. Small employers (under 50 employees) should consult with their tax providers to ensure they receive accurate tax credits that may be available for their increased wage payments.
Training Requirements: Reminder – In 2020, Illinois added a Sexual Harassment Prevention Training requirement under the State’s Human Rights Act (IHRA) and enforced by the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR). IHRA requires annual training. Restaurants and Bars have additional requirements for supplemental training. Find the free model training materials at State of Illinois Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Program – Training. You can conduct the training yourself, hire a consultant, or find a vendor that offers compliant on-online video or seminar training for a fee. Included in this requirement is a mandate to report sexual harassment complaints and investigations to the State.
Poster Requirements: All 50 states plus the District of Columbia have requirements for workplace posters based on state law, in addition to Federal requirements. Find Federal poster requirements at Workplace Posters | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov). The USDOL helps with determining poster requirements at elaws – FirstStep Poster Advisor (dol.gov). Specific requirements for Illinois posters are at Required Posters – Employers (illinois.gov). All posters at the links above are downloadable free of charge. Alternatively, you can buy posters with all the requirements, laminated or not, from many sources. Be sure to look for 2021 variations and shop around because prices vary widely. Most vendors offer poster sets (or all-in-one posters) that combine federal, state, and OSHA requirements. Because of minimum wage changes and the requirement to post employee rights under the IHRA, Illinois employers need new posters for 2021.
December 17, 2020 – EEOC Updates Guidance on Employer COVID-19 Vaccination Policies
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released updated guidance on the responsibilities and rights of employers and employees related to the COVID-19 vaccine, including in cases where employers require employees to be vaccinated.
The publication, “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws,” includes a section providing information to employers and employees about how a COVID-19 vaccination interacts with the legal requirements of the the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).
November 2020 – Small Business Retirement Plans (for businesses with 25-99 employees)
Illinois Secure Choice is a Roth IRA program run by the Illinois Treasurer’s Office. This program is directed at employers (with 25 or more employees) that do not already offer a savings plan for their employees. Employers with 25-99 employees must register by October.
The savings accounts are owned by individual participants and will be portable from job-to-job. Their accounts will be pooled and managed by a private investment company selected through a competitive bidding process.
- Their Illinois Secure Choice account is a Roth IRA
- The default savings rate is 5% of gross pay, but they can choose to change their contribution level or fund option at any time
- Employees will be auto enrolled after 30 days and will begin saving through payroll contributions
- Employees who do not want to participate MUST opt-out.
October 2020 – Public Act 101-0177 Wage History Question Prohibition (effective Oct. 1)
Amends the Equal Pay Act of 2003 prohibiting an employer from:
- screening job applicants based on their wage or salary history,
- requiring that an applicant’s prior wages satisfy minimum or maximum criteria,
- requesting or requiring that an applicant disclose prior wages or salary as a condition of being interviewed or as a condition of continuing to be considered for an offer of employment.
- The law prohibits an employer from seeking the salary, including benefits or other compensation or salary history, of a job applicant from any current or former employer, with some exceptions.
- Potential employees may freely provide past salary information, but employers must not ask for it.
Employers who do not comply could face fines and penalties from the Illinois Department of Labor and well as potential civil action and lawsuits.
July 2020 – Public Act 101-0430 Human Rights Act Expanded Coverage
In addition to the new employer obligations under the WTA, the Illinois Legislature also significantly expanded the coverage of the Human Rights Act to nearly all small businesses. Effective July 1, 2020, the requirements of the Human Rights Act apply to any employer with one or more employees working within Illinois during 20 or more calendar weeks during the current year, or during the year preceding the alleged discrimination violation. The Human Rights Act currently applies only to employers with 15 or more employees for discrimination allegations (other than those related to disability, pregnancy or sexual harassment, which already apply to all employers).
Employers required poster includes the information needed for Wage Payment and Collection Act, Child Labor Law, Minimum Wage Law, Equal Pay Act, Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act and the One Day Rest in Seven Act.
January 2020 – Public Act 101-0221 Employment Discrimination/Sexual Harassment (effective Jan. 1, 2020)
Every employer with employees working in the State of Illinois must provide annual sexual harassment prevention training by December 31, 2020, and annually thereafter.
We have an Anti-Harassment Policy template and an Anti-Harassment Policy Checklist free to our members call us at 815-895-3456.
Additionally, restaurants and bars must establish and disseminate a written policy on sexual harassment prevention training and provide “supplemental” sexual harassment prevention training. Every employer must keep an internal record of compliance, such as sign-in sheets for group training, signed employee acknowledgment of completion, a certificate of participation with a copy retained by the employer, or any other format that identifies who attended what training, on what date. Following is the official notice of the Minimum Training Standards from the Illinois Department of Human Rights.
Employers Must Provide Sexual Harassment Prevention Training
Every employer with employees working in the State of Illinois is required to provide all employees with annual sexual harassment prevention training that complies with Section 2-109 of the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”). Employers may develop their own sexual harassment prevention training program that meets or exceeds the minimum standards for sexual harassment prevention training as outlined in Section 2-109(B) of the IHRA, or they may use the model sexual harassment prevention training developed by the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”).
For new employees, training must occur within 90 days of hire. Furthermore, from now on, the law requires annual sexual harassment training. See more information about the IHR training compliance at https://www2.illinois.gov/dhr/Training/Pages/State-of-Illinois-Sexual-Harassment-Prevention-Training-Model.aspx
Restaurants and bars are required to provide “supplemental” sexual harassment prevention training that complies with Section 2-110 of the IHRA.
Minimum Standards for Sexual Harassment Prevention Training
Employers may develop their own sexual harassment prevention training programs provided they meet or exceed the minimum training standards outlined in Section 2-109(B), which include:
- an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with the IHRA;
- examples of conduct that constitutes unlawful sexual harassment;
- a summary of relevant federal and State statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment, including remedies available to victims of sexual harassment; and
- a summary of employers’ responsibilities in the prevention, investigation, and corrective measures of sexual harassment.
Additional Compliance Information
- Supplemental Training. To satisfy the requirements under Section 2-109, employers may use IDHR’s model sexual harassment prevention training program to supplement any existing program an employer is utilizing or develops.
- Deadline to Train Employees. Employers must train employees by December 31, 2020, and on an annual basis thereafter.
- Civil Penalty. Any employer that violates Section 2-109 will be issued a notice to show cause giving the employer 30 days to comply. Failure to comply within 30 days will result in IDHR petitioning the Illinois Human Rights Commission for entry of an order imposing a civil penalty against the employer.
A Handout version of this notice: https://www2.illinois.gov/dhr/Training/Documents/IDHR_SHP-TR01_Minimum_Standards_Training-Ver20200127.pdf
Download the Model Training Provided by IDHR (English and Spanish versions): https://www2.illinois.gov/dhr/Training/Pages/State-of-Illinois-Sexual-Harassment-Prevention-Training-Model.aspx
There are numerous vendors providing training on-line for fees. An on-line search of “Illinois Sexual Harassment Law Training Options” will give a view to availability.
FAQ for Sexual Harassment Prevention Training: https://www2.illinois.gov/dhr/Training/Pages/FAQ%20for%20Sexual%20Harassment%20Prevention%20Training.aspx
Access to the Institute for Training and Development https://www2.illinois.gov/dhr/Training/Pages/FAQ%20for%20Sexual%20Harassment%20Prevention%20Training.aspx
Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/IllinoisDHR/
Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) Eventbrite site for all currently available training conducted by IDHR: https://www.eventbrite.com/o/illinois-department-of-human-rights-357295684
The Illinois Restaurant Association information Links for training and a policy template for members: https://www.illinoisrestaurants.org/page/SexualHarassment
January 2020 – Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act
On January 1, 2020, Illinois became the 11th state to legalize adult-use cannabis. The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act is comprehensive and will impact employers in many ways. Following Illinois’ legalization of medical cannabis in 2014, marijuana now will be available for recreational use by all adults age 21 and older, while remaining an unlawful controlled substance under federal law. As a result, Illinois employers must ensure that they have considered their organization’s philosophy for dealing with marijuana in the application and disciplinary process for all positions and employees.
January 2020 – Expansion of VESSA Protections
Effective January 1, 2020, the WTA also expanded the victim protections available under the Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA). VESSA has long provided for job-protected unpaid leave (similar to that available under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act) for victims of sexual violence, assault or stalking. Such leave is available to victims for a period of four to 12 weeks, depending on the size of the employer. Under the WTA, such leave now is available for victims of “gender violence.” Gender violence includes one or more acts of violence or aggression that is based on a person’s actual or perceived sex or gender, or a physical intrusion or invasion of a sexual nature under coercive conditions, either of which that satisfy the requirements for any crime under state law. There is no requirement that such gender violence crimes result in an arrest, prosecution or conviction, and gender violence also may include threats of such violence. Employers should ensure their VESSA policies include this expanded coverage.