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To see what America truly looks like, look no further than Illinois. From dense urban areas to vast stretches of farmland—from world-sustaining factories to world-famous architecture—the state stands as a reflection of our nation’s history, diversity, and entrepreneurial spirit.

It’s no surprise that the workforce safety and compliance concerns that impact employers throughout the United States are highly concentrated in Illinois. Given the region’s climate and large number of industrial and agricultural operations, there’s no shortage of rules and regulations governing how people and businesses work. Discover tools, resources, and strategies for keeping your employees safe and your organization out of trouble

Illinois COVID-19 State Regulations

Below is a round-up of COVID-19 state regulations for employers navigating how to operate safely during the pandemic. If you believe there may be a discrepancy between a state and local order that affects you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

Chicago Passes COVID-19 Vaccination Workplace Protections

A new Ordinance from the city of Chicago extends workplace protections to employees by banning employers from:

  • Retaliating against employees who get a COVID-19 vaccination during work hours
  • Mandating that workers get a COVID-19 vaccine outside of work hours

The Ordinance took immediate effect on April 21, 2021, the day it was passed by the City Council. It will end when the Commissioner of Public Health issues a written notice that the public health threat of COVID-19 has decreased enough to allow Ordinance’s repeal.

The Ordinance also asserts that if employers don’t mandate vaccination and they remain voluntary, employers must allow workers to use any available paid sick leave or paid time off to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

For employers that have a mandatory vaccination policy, they must compensate the worker for the time spent getting the vaccine during working hours, up to 4 hours per dose. The employee should be compensated at the worker’s FLSA regular rate of pay for the used time off. Employers that require vaccinations can’t also require the workers use paid sick leave or paid time off to get the vaccine.

If an employer takes any adverse action against an employee getting a COVID-19 vaccine, the employee can seek action and recover:

  • Reinstatement
  • Damages of up to three times the total wages that would have been owed
  • Other damages caused by the retaliation against the employee
  • Costs and reasonable legal fees

Additionally, Ordinance violations could be subject to a fine between $1,000 and $5,000.

What Should You Do?

  • If you are located within the city of Chicago, review and/or revise your current vaccination and workplace time off policies and procedures to ensure that they are in compliance with the Ordinance.
  • Be sure to communicate with your managers employees regarding any changes you make to your vaccination policies

Additional Resources

Chicago Ordinance

Chicago Labor Standards COVID-19 Vaccine Anti-Retaliation

Chicago Public Health

Chicago Office of Labor Standards

March 2021: Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccinations and Paid Leave, Compensation

The Illinois Department of Labor published employer guidance on Compensation, Paid Leave and the COVID-19 Vaccine.

If an employer is requiring employees to be vaccinated, the time employees take to get the vaccine(s) is likely qualifying for compensation, even when it’s done during non-working hours. A mandatory vaccine requirement should be combined with paid leave for employees to get the vaccine, regardless of the number of doses, or the employer should provide compensation for the time taken to comply with the employer vaccination requirement.

If employees choose to acquire the vaccine voluntarily, they should be allowed to use sick leave, vacation time, or other paid time off to receive the necessary number of doses for vaccination. Employers that don’t choose to offer paid leave for these employees, may consider providing FLEX time to employees without having to take unpaid time off. If the employer doesn’t provide FLEX time, they should allow employees to take unpaid time off.

If employees’ family members are seeking vaccination, the Employee Sick Leave Act requires employers let their employees use employer-provided sick leave benefits for any absence related to medical appointments for children, stepchildren, spouses, domestic partner, sibling, parent, in-laws, grandchildren, grandparents, or stepparent. This provision extends to COVID-19 vaccine dose(s).

What Should You Do?

  • Review your leave policies and procedures to ensure they meet this latest guidance. Revise them accordingly with guidance from your legal counsel.
  • If you have vaccination policies or procedures, seek legal counsel to ensure that they meet this latest guidance.
  • Communicate any changes to your employees and educate them on their rights and options if they are choosing to get vaccinated.

Additional Resources

Employer Guidance: Compensation, Paid Leave and The Covid-19 Vaccine March 2021

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

Workers Compensation Benefits Extended for First Responders and Frontline Essential Workers

Who: Employers of first responders and essential frontline workers

When: March 9, 2020 to June 30, 2021 (including the period between December 31, 2020 and when HB 4276 was signed into law)

What: Governor JB Pritzker signed HB 4276 into law on February 26, 2021. The new legislation provides workers’ compensation benefits until June 30, 2021, to those frontline essential workers and first responders who have contracted COVID-19 at work.

The legislation also states that if COVID-19 directly or indirectly impacts a worker’s recovery from an illness or injury, they will have access of up to 60 days of time-off. Public employers may require proof of the situation that is delaying a worker’s recovery before granting the 60-day extension.

It also extends the timeline where a policeman or fireman’s death resulting from COVID-19 will be presumed to be a result of a workplace incident.

While a worker is using the 60 days of time off, public employers may request a medical examination of the worker at any point to assess the level of disability.

For part-time employees, the compensation and other benefits should be calculated using the percentage of time the part-time employee was scheduled to work as part of their regular part-time status.  

Additional Resources Press Release

UPDATED 1/8/21: Face Covering Mandate

Update 1/8/21: The Illinois Department of Public Health filed an emergency rule to uphold the face covering mandate for 150 days from January 4, 2021.

Executive Order 2020-43 includes language regarding face coverings. Anyone over 2 years of age must wear a face covering in indoor and outdoor public places, where social distancing requirements can’t be maintained.

All employers must ensure that employees are wearing face coverings when social distancing requirements can’t be maintained. Businesses must encourage customers to wear face coverings

Additional Resources

Executive Order 2020-43

FAQ for Businesses Concerning Use of Face-Coverings During COVID-19

Illinois Executive Orders

Illinois HR and Workplace Compliance Rules and Regulations

Below is a round-up of new and changing state regulations for employers navigating workforce-related policies and procedures. Although we have provided some information and recommendations, you should contact your legal counsel for further advice.

Illinois Expands VESSA Provisions

Who: Illinois employers

When: Effective immediately

What: Effective August 20, 2021, the state of Illinois amended its Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA). Employees may now take unpaid, job-protected leave if they or a covered family or household member is a victim of any crime of violence. A crime of violence is defined as, “any conduct proscribed by Articles 9, 11, 12, 26.5, 29D, and 33A of the Criminal Code of 2012 or a similar provision of the Criminal Code of 1961” and includes bodily harm, sexual assault, and harassment, among others.

The Act originally defined a family or household member as a spouse, parent, or person jointly residing in the household. The amendment expands the definition of family and household member to include:

  • A party to a civil union;
  • Grandparent, child, grandchild, or sibling;
  • Any person related by blood;
  • A person related by present or prior marriage or civil union, or who shares a relationship through a child; or
  • A person whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family member (as determined by the employee).

The amended Act clarifies the documentation requirement. Under the original Act, employers could require an employee to certify that they or a household member was a victim of a crime of violence by providing the employee’s sworn statement and other evidence that corroborates the reason for leave. The amendment states that:

  • The employee must provide the corroborating documentation only if they are in possession of such a document;
  • The employer cannot request more than one such document;
  • The employee may choose which document; and
  • The employer cannot request more than one document during the same 12-month period if the leave is related to the same incident or perpetrator(s).

The amendment updates the non-discrimination provision to include “any other crime of violence.”

The amendment also requires employers to keep the employee’s information confidential unless the employee gives written permission to share the information or if sharing is required by federal or state law.

The law requires employers with fewer than 15 employees to provide up to four weeks of leave during any 12-month period. Employers with 15 to 49 employees must provide eight weeks of leave, and those with 50 or more employees must provide 12 weeks.


  • Post the required VESSA poster.
  • Update your policies and employee handbook to comply with the amended law.

Additional Resources:

Public Act 102-0487

Illinois Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA)

Illinois Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) Poster (English)Illinois Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) Poster (Spanish)

Illinois Adds Protection Against Discrimination Based on Work Authorization Status

Who: Illinois employers

When: Effective immediately

What: On August 2, 2021, Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law Public Act 102-0233, which amends the Illinois Human Rights Act. The amended law now includes work authorization status as a protected class with regard to employment discrimination. Discrimination in recruitment, hiring, firing, promotion, or discipline practices that is “based on the specific status or term of status that accompanies a legal work authorization” is now considered a violation of that employee’s civil rights.

The new law applies to persons born outside the United States who are not U.S. citizens and who are authorized by the federal government to work in the U.S. Including protections for this group brings the Illinois Human Rights Act into alignment with federal law.


  • Revise your nondiscrimination policies, employee handbook, employment applications, and other hiring materials as necessary to align with the amended law.
  • Update your training materials to include information about the newly protected status.

Additional Resources:

Public Act 102-0233

Human Rights Act Enhanced to Include Work Authorization Status Protection

Illinois Increases Penalties for Wage Theft

Who: Illinois private employers and local governmental employers

When: Effective immediately

What: On July 9, 2021, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law amendments to the Wage Payment and Collection Act, which the General Assembly approved on May 25, 2021. The law increases the penalty for underpaid compensation from 2% of the underpaid amount to 5% of the underpaid amount. The employer must pay the penalty for each month the amount owed remains unpaid, plus attorneys’ fees and costs.

The Act also requires employers to pay certain exempt employees at least once a month and non-exempt workers at least semi-monthly. It sets the maximum time an employer can wait to pay an employee’s wages after they are earned and determines how employees are to be paid upon separation. Failure to pay an employee for work performed or violation of any of the wage payment rules is known as wage theft, and such an act is what incurs the 5% penalty.

The Act applies to private employers and local governmental employers but not state or federal governmental employers.


  • Review your pay practices to ensure they comply with the Wage Payment and Collection Act.

Additional Resources:


Chicago Amends Paid Sick Leave Rules and Enacts Wage Theft Protection

Who: Chicago employers

When: Effective immediately

What: On June 25, 2021, the Chicago City Council enacted Ordinance No. O2021-2182, which goes into effect August 1, 2021. The Ordinance puts into place new wage theft provisions and expands the covered reasons employees may use paid sick leave.

Failing to timely pay a covered employee now makes the employer liable for wage theft. Wage theft is defined as failure to pay for work performed, paid time off, or contractually required benefits. An employer is subject to a penalty of 2% of the underpaid compensation for each month the compensation remains unpaid, or the amount specified in the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, whichever is greater. An employee may attempt to gain redress either by filing a claim with the Office of Labor Standards or by bringing a civil action.

The Ordinance also expands covered reasons for use of Chicago Paid Sick Leave. There are three modified reasons and one new reason. The modified reasons are:

  • The employee is ill or injured, or for the purpose of receiving processional care, including preventive care, diagnosis, or treatment, for medical, mental, or behavioral issues, including substance abuse disorders.
  • A covered family member is ill or injured, or ordered to quarantine, or to care for a family member receiving professional care, including preventive care, diagnosis, or treatment, for medical, mental, or behavioral issues, including substance abuse disorders.
  • The employee needs to care for a family member whose school, class, or place of care has been closed.

In addition, the Ordinance clarifies domestic violence by adding stalking, aggravated stalking, and cyberstalking to the definition.

The new reason is:

  • An employee obeys an order issued by the mayor, the governor of Illinois, the Chicago Department of Public Health, or a treating healthcare provider, requiring the employee: to stay at home to minimize the transmission of a communicable disease, to remain at home while experiencing symptoms or sick with a communicable disease, to obey a quarantine order issued to the employee, or to obey an isolation order issued to the employee.

Employers must post the new Paid Sick Leave notice that includes the employee’s right to seek remedy for wage theft. Under the Paid Sick Leave Act, employers must also provide a Paid Sick Leave notice with a paycheck issued within 30 days of July 1, 2021.


  • Post the new Paid Sick Leave poster notice.
  • Revise your compensation and paid sick leave policies to comply with the amended law.

Additional Resources:

Chicago Paid Sick Leave Poster Notice English

Chicago Paid Sick Leave Poster Notice Spanish

Chicago Paid Sick Leave Website

Ordinance No. O2021-2182

Effective Immediately: Cook County Will Not Increase Minimum Wage as Planned

Who: Cook County, Illinois employers

When: Effective immediately

What: Cook County, Illinois had scheduled a minimum wage increase as of July 1, 2021—a number that would have been calculated based on a formula tied to the Consumer Price Index. The provisions of the ordinance state that if the unemployment rate for the previous year was 8.5% or higher, the minimum wage is no longer tied to the Consumer Price Index. Such is the case at this time, which means the planned increase will not go into effect. Minimum wage will remain at $13.00 per hour and $6.60 per hour for tipped workers.


  • Check opt-ins and opt-outs in Cook County cities to ensure you are paying employees in those cities the correct rate.
  • Update your Cook County Minimum Wage Ordinance Poster

Additional Resources:

Cook County Minimum Wage Ordinance

Effective Immediately: Illinois Expands Employee Rights Under Kin Care Law

Who: Illinois employers

When: Effective immediately

What: On April 27, 2021, Illinois Governor Pritzker signed House Bill 158 into law, which amends the Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act (known as the Kin Care Law). The amended law does not require employers to provide sick leave, but if employers do provide sick leave (paid or unpaid), the bill expands the reasons employees can use those benefits. Now employees may use their sick leave to attend to the “personal care” of a covered family member. Employers must allow employees to take half of their total earned sick leave for purposes of kin care.

Covered family members include children, stepchildren, spouses, domestic partners, siblings, parents, mothers-in-law, fathers-in-law, grandchildren, grandparents, and stepparents. Personal care includes any activities related to a family member’s “basic medical, hygiene, nutritional, or safety needs.” The amendment also allows for use of sick leave to transport family members to medical appointments and to provide emotional support for a family member with a serious health condition who is receiving inpatient or home care.

Employers may require health care professional’s written verification of the reason for a kin care–related absence. Employers may enforce such a policy only if they require the same type of verification for employees’ use of sick leave for their own illnesses or injuries.


  • Review your sick leave policies and practices to ensure compliance with the new law.

Additional Resources:

HB 158

Effective Immediately: Illinois Enacts Anti-Discrimination and Equal Pay Laws

Who: Illinois employers

When: Effective immediately

What: On March 23, 2021, the Illinois Governor signed into law SB 1480, which amends the Illinois Equal Pay Act, Illinois Human Rights Act, and Illinois Business Corporations. It protects employees and applicants from discrimination on the basis of their criminal record, requires employers to certify their equal pay compliance, and changes the state’s EEO-1 reporting requirements.

The new law states that employers can neither refuse to hire an applicant with a criminal record nor base an employment decision for a current employee on a criminal record without first assessing if there is a “substantial relationship” between the criminal offense(s) and the job the worker will be doing, or if there is unreasonable risk associated with hiring the person for a particular position. If disqualified, an applicant/employee has the right to present evidence to the employer as to why the assessment was inaccurate, which the employer must consider.

SB 1480 also requires private employers with more than 100 employees to obtain an “equal pay registration certificate.” The document certifies that the business is in compliance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Illinois Human Rights Act, the Equal Wage Act, and the Equal Pay Act of 2003. The certificate demonstrates that the organization compensates its employees and makes employment decisions in accordance with the law. Employers must obtain an equal pay certificate within three years of the effective date of the law or be subject to civil penalties of up to 1% of their gross profits. Employers must recertify every two years thereafter.

SB 1480 also prohibits retaliation against whistleblowers. Employers are prohibited from taking any “retaliatory action” against an employee because the employee discloses or threatens to disclose an employer’s regulatory or legal violation or testifies to same.

SB 1480 also requires that employers who must submit the federal Employer Information Report EEO-1 must report substantially similar information to the state of Illinois.


  • Consult with legal counsel to ensure your policies and practices comply with the new law.
  • Update your existing policies regarding basing employment decisions on criminal convictions and update your HR manual as needed.
  • Ensure your existing pay practices and outcomes will allow you to obtain the equal pay certificate.
  • Obtain an equal pay certificate by March 23, 2024.
  • Review the new state EEO-1 demographic reporting obligations and collect and report data accordingly.
  • Train supervisors, managers, and HR personnel on the new law.

Additional Resources:

SB 1480

Illinois Department of Human Rights Conviction Record Protection – Frequently Asked Questions

By December 31, 2020: Deadline for Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

Who: All Illinois employers

When: Training deadline December 31, 2020

What: The Illinois Human Rights Act requires Illinois employers to complete annual sexual harassment prevention training for all employees. The law applies to any employer that employs one or more employees within Illinois during 20 or more calendar weeks in a calendar year. No moratorium or extension has been granted for COVID-19–related reasons. The first training is due by December 31, 2020, and must include:

  • What constitutes sexual harassment, along with examples of unlawful conduct;
  • A summary of federal and state statutes relating to sexual harassment;
  • Remedies available to victims; and
  • A summary of an employer’s responsibilities related to sexual harassment prevention, investigation, and corrective measures.

Employers may develop their own training or use the state’s model training program. Employers must pay employees for the time they spend completing the training. The state encourages employers to provide the training as soon as possible after hiring a new employee. Employers need to maintain a record of the training, including date, names of attendees, written materials, and identity of the presenter. Employers must also maintain a certificate or signed acknowledgement for each employee who completes the training.

Restaurants and bars are subject to additional rules. In addition to the minimum content in the model training, they must provide additional training that addresses sexual harassment prevention in the restaurant and bar industry. The state of Illinois has made available such training online, though these businesses may create their own training as long as it meets the minimum standards.

Restaurants and bars must also create a sexual harassment policy and provide it to all employees in writing—in English and Spanish—within their first week of employment. See Minimum Standards for Policy on Sexual Harassment Prevention for Restaurants and Bars for the elements the policy must include.

If the Illinois Department of Human Rights finds that the employer has not completed the required training, it has the option of allowing the employer an additional 30 days. Failure to comply can result in fines up to $500 or $1,000 for the first offense, depending on the size of the employer.


  • Post the You Have The Right To Be Free From Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Poster and include in the employee handbooks.
  • Provide the required training by December 31, 2020 and follow the training standards applicable to the industry.
  • Maintain associated attendance records for all employees that received the sexual harassment training.

Additional Resources:

You Have The Right To Be Free From Job Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Poster

Illinois Model Sexual Harassment Training Program Website

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Sexual Harassment Prevention

Sexual Harassment Prevention: Minimum Training Standards for Employers (Handout SHP-TR01)

Sexual Harassment Prevention: Minimum Training Standards for Restaurants and Bars (Handout SHP-TR02)

Public Act 101-0221

Section 2-109

Section 2-110

By January 1: Illinois Requires Corporations to Report on Board Diversity

Who: Publicly held corporations headquartered in Illinois

When: Reporting deadline is January 1, 2021

What: Governor Pritzker signed Public Act 101-0589 into law in August 2019, with the intent of encouraging publicly held corporations to increase diversity on their boards of directors. No later than January 1, 2021, publicly held foreign or domestic corporations with their principal executive office in Illinois must report certain information to the Secretary of State about:

  • Data on qualifications, skills, and experience that the corporation considers for its board of directors;
  • The diversity of the members of their board of directors, including self-identified gender, race, and ethnicity;
  • Their policies and practices regarding identifying and evaluating board of director nominees and executive officers, including the consideration of diversity; and
  • Their policies and practices for promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion as they related to the board of directors and executive officers.

Corporations must update the information in the annual report they file each year with the Secretary of State.


  • Collect and report the required diversity information to the Secretary of State no later than January 1, 2021.

Additional Resources:

HB 3394

Public Act 101-0589

January 1: Chicago Right to Take Private Actions Under Fair Workweek Ordinance Effective

Who: Chicago employers

When: Effective January 1, 2021

What: Beginning January 1, 2021, the final part of Chicago’s predictive scheduling law goes into effect per the Fair Workweek Ordinance. Covered employees will now have a private right of action against employers for violations of the ordinance. An employee must first exhaust administrative remedies offered by the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.


  • Review your policies and practices to ensure they comply with the Fair Workweek Ordinance.

Additional Resources:

Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance

Chicago Fair Workweek Notice

Chicago Fair Workweek Website

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