• A New Year Brings New Developments in Illinois Employment Law
  • February 8, 2017 | Author: Genevieve Mary Daniels
  • Law Firm: Shaw Fishman Glantz & Towbin LLC - Chicago Office
  • The start of a new year is a perfect opportunity for Illinois employers to update and fine tune their employment policies to comply with an ever-changing legal environment. Summarized below are some of the new, employment-related laws that went into effect in Illinois on January 1, 2017:

    Employee Sick Leave Act

    Illinois employees now have more flexibility when using their sick leave. Specifically, employees can now use their sick leave benefits to care for a child, spouse, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, stepchild, or stepparent under same terms upon which the employee is able to use such benefits for his or her own injury or illness. While Illinois law does not require employers to provide sick leave to their employees, employers that already provide for such paid time off should clarify their policies or handbooks to include this new change in the law.

    Illinois Freedom To Work Act

    As of January 1, 2107, Illinois now bans the use of non-compete agreements for hourly employees earning less than $13/hour. This legislative action stems from Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s prosecution of sandwich chain Jimmy John’s for prohibiting its employees from working at another sandwich shop for two years after their employment had ended at the chain. The Attorney General described the company’s non-compete agreement as “highly restrictive” and violative of Illinois law’s requirement that the scope, duration and geographical restrictions of such agreements be narrowly and reasonably tailored to protect a former employer’s legitimate business interests. Apart from the prohibition on its non-compete agreement, Jimmy John’s also agreed to a $100,000 settlement as resolution of the state’s case against it.

    Freedom From Location Surveillance Act

    Various amendments to the Freedom From Location Surveillance Act now ban employers, in part, from: 1) requesting, requiring or coercing employees or prospective employees into giving their username or password to any online account or accessing that account in the presence of the employer; 2) requesting, requiring or coercing an employee or applicant to invite the employer to join a group affiliated with any personal online account of the employee; or 3) requiring or coercing an employee or applicant to join an online account established by the employer. Given these recent changes in the law, it is especially important for employers to be aware of these provisions and how they interplay with existing company technology, social media and other workplace policies.

    Illinois Domestic Workers Bill of Rights

    Normally, employment law dictates policies and prohibitions in the workplace outside of the home. Now, as of January 1st, amendments to various laws now expand the reach of Illinois law to the tens of thousands of domestic workers, such as nannies, house keepers, and care givers, a group normally excluded from employment protection laws. In other words, companies and individuals who employ such workers in their homes now need to be aware of and compliant with various Illinois laws governing the workplace. Specifically, such workers are now to be paid at least $8.25 an hour, an amount above the federal minimum of $7.25, and are entitled to at least 24 hours of rest per each calendar week and a meal period of 20 minutes for every 7.5 hour shift. In addition, such workers are also covered by the Illinois Human Rights Act, which protects against sexual harassment. An inadvertent misstep by employers in this area could prove a costly mistake.

    The above changes are just some of the laws affecting Illinois employers.