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.
NEW 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.
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.
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
Guidelines to Safely Reopen Additional Businesses and Industries (Phase IV Press Release)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.