Keeping up with Illinois Employment Law Changes

In the wild, adaptation is essential for survival. In business, adaptation is required for success. With so many new federal, state, and city employment laws and additional bills in the pipeline, HR compliance can become a distraction from your business goals. In order to succeed, it’s necessary for every business in the state to analyze the most recent and upcoming Illinois employment law changes.

Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act

On January 1st of this year, the Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act took effect. This state law requires businesses to allow employees to use any available sick leave benefits they have during an illness of one of their family members. Rapidly after it was enacted, it was amended to include specific qualifying family members such as stepchildren and domestic partners.

These sick leave benefits can refer to paid or unpaid sick days depending on each specific employment agreement. As is often the case with regulations, there is more than meets the eye here with employers still having some ability to maneuver within the language of the law. They are able to sidestep these requirements in certain situations, and likewise have the option of extending the time frame that sick benefits are allowed if they so choose.

Healthy Workplace Act

Closely related to the Sick Leave Act is the Healthy Workplace Act that looks to require employers to offer five days of paid sick leave to employees. The bill recently passed a committee vote, setting the stage for the House and Senate to have their say. Under the proposed regulation, employers would still have the ability to set a reasonable minimum increment of time, as well as request formal proof of the illness.

This act has the potential to make a significant impact on the budgets of organizations that don’t currently offer paid sick leave to a large number of employees. A simple calculation can determine how five days of paid leave for each of these workers will change payroll and subsequent budgeting.

Anti-Discrimination 7th Circuit Court Decision

Recent Illinois changes to employment law are not limited to sick leave. In a landmark decision by the 7th Circuit Court, it was formally determined that employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is prohibited by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This overturns a previous decision in 2000 by the same court which has jurisdiction over Illinois as well as Indiana and Wisconsin.

When it comes to compliance, discrimination laws are of critical importance. This latest ruling makes clear that employers must review their own policies and update them if necessary to be in accordance with this decision. Likewise, reviewing an internal employee training program to ensure workers and management clearly understand this law will help to promote an open and inclusive company culture.

Illinois Day and Temporary Services Act Amendment

Proposed legislation to modify this act affects temporary workers and those that employ them. If enacted, it would raise penalties for safety violations, prohibit charging candidates for their own background checks, credit checks, or drug tests, and encourage organizations to convert these workers into full-time employees. Created primarily with the high population of temporary warehouse workers in mind, the amendment would still apply to any temp worker in the state.

While numerous objections may halt the bill’s passing, it’s an unfortunate truth that some organizations cannot appropriately manage a temporary workforce. Whether they purposely choose to disregard regulations or whether they lack the expertise, either situation often results in widespread compliance issues that have prompted this new legislation. Even if it is not passed, this amendment underscores the importance of partnering with an expert PEO for efficient HR solutions.

Minimum Wage Changes

Current Chicago minimum wage will rise to $11 on July 1st of this year. This is one of the more well-known Illinois changes to employment law and likely has been taken into account for those that currently employ minimum wage workers. However, it’s also vital to note for organizations that do not have any workers below this pay grade. Existing policies and handbooks must be updated to stay in accordance with the law and avoid any future issues.

When it comes to the state of Illinois as a whole, a new proposal to slowly raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2022 has cleared The House Labor and Commerce Committee. If the bill goes all the way, the first increase would reach $9 and take effect on Jan 1st 2018. In an effort to give smaller businesses time to adjust to the changes, the bill includes provisions for tax credits in the next several years.

Illinois Changes to Employment Law

In the span of a few months, this slew of changes has sent many businesses scrambling to formulate plans to ensure compliance. With federal regulations also changing, it can become overwhelming and debilitating for a business to keep up. Deciding to outsource your HR in 2017 can alleviate this burden by keeping your organization in compliance while saving time and money.

For additional information on achieving effective compliance, download our complimentary Ultimate HR Compliance Guide today.

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