NEW ILLINOIS LAWS IN 2019 REQUIRE EMPLOYERS TO REEVALUATE POLICIES AND PRACTICES
As 2018 is coming to an end, now’s the time for employers, business owners, and HR professionals to turn their attention to the new year. Here is a look at what you can expect in 2019.
Employee Reimbursement for Business Expenses
Effective January 1, 2019, amendments to the Illinois Wage Payment Collection Act (IWPCA) will require employers to reimburse their employees for “all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee within the employee’s scope of employment and directly related to services performed for the employer.”
“Necessary expenditures” is defined as “all reasonable expenditures or losses” the employee incurs in performing job duties and which primarily benefit the employer. However, employers are not required to reimburse for losses caused by employee negligence, normal wear or theft (unless the theft results from the employer’s negligence). Nor are employers required to reimburse unauthorized expenses, requests that fail to comply with written reimbursement policies, or costs exceeding employer-established expense caps. Employers may also limit the timeframe for submitting reimbursement requests, but employees must be allowed a minimum of 30 days to submit requests.
Illinois employers should establish or update expense reimbursement policies before the January 1, 2019, effective date. Policies should at least include:
- The types of expenses that are reimbursable;
- The amount or proportion of the expense eligible for reimbursement;
- The type of documentary evidence (receipts, invoices, etc.) required for reimbursement; and
- The time period in which employees have to submit documents.
Equal Pay Protections for African-American Employees
Effective January 1, 2019, an amendment to Illinois’s Equal Pay Act of 2003 (“IEPA”) expands the statute to cover pay discrimination between African-Americans and non-African-Americans. The amendment will prohibit employers from paying African-Americans less than non-African-Americans who are performing “the same or substantially similar work.” (The IEPA previously was limited to ensuring equal pay between male and female employees.)
Senate Bill 405 “Hutchison Law”
Effective January 1, 2019, Senate Bill 405 requires all companies that make a bid or offer for a state contract have a sexual harassment policy in place. Additionally, the law requires companies that claim EDGE tax credits to include their sexual harassment policy in their annual report to the state.
Amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act
Recent amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) broaden employee rights and impose new, immediate notice requirements on employers. Under the new amendments, complainants now have up to 300 days to file a charge with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR). This change mirrors the filing period provided under federal law for filing discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The amendments also update the posting and notice requirements of the IHRA to include specific information about employee rights to be free from sexual harassment. Public Act 100-0588 amends the IHRA at 775 ILCS 5/2-102(K) and directs that employers must post the notice issued by IDHR and, importantly, include the same content covered in the notice in their employee handbooks.
Because the IHRA applies to employers with one or more employees in cases involving allegations of sexual harassment, disability discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, and retaliation, the new posting and handbook requirements extend to all employers operating in the state of Illinois.
Paid Breaks for Nursing Mothers
Effective August 21, 2018, Illinois amended its Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act (820 ILCS 260/10). The amendment now requires employers to pay for “reasonable” break time spent expressing breast milk, no matter how long it takes or how often it needs to occur. A limit of up to one year after the birth has now replaced a previously undefined period. Previously, it was required that the break time to run, when possible, concurrently with any break time already provided to the employee. However, the new version states that the break time “may” run concurrently but it no longer is required to. Instead, an employer is required to provide “reasonable” break time as needed by the employee unless to do so would create an “undue hardship” as defined under the Illinois Human Rights Act (which is a fairly high burden for an employer to meet). The “undue hardship” standard is higher than the prior version, which allowed employers to refuse or restrict lactation breaks if to do so would “unduly disrupt the employer’s operations.” The bottom line is that Illinois employers must immediately review their policies on expressing breast milk and further ensure that employees’ pay is no longer being deducted for those breaks.
Additional Protections for Military Service Members
Effective January 1, 2019, the rights of Illinois employees serving in the military will be governed by the Illinois Service Member Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (ISERRA), Public Act 100-1101. The new law will protect the employment and benefits of any service member who leaves their job to serve either the state or country. Furthermore, ISERRA has been expanded to protect all members of the armed forces.
Emergency Medical Services Employees Exempt from One Day of Rest Act
Illinois’s One Day Rest In Seven Act (“ODRISA”) was amended, effective August 24, 2018, to exempt on-call employees of private companies licensed under the Emergency Medical Services (“EMS”) Systems Act. ODRISA requires employers to provide employees with at least 1 day of rest in a 7-day period, and that employees who work at least 7.5 continuous hours be provided a 20-minute meal break no more than 5 hours after starting their shift. The recent amendment to ODRISA, however, provides an exemption to EMS employees who are required to be on call for 8-hour periods. Under the amendment, those employees must only be allowed to eat a meal at some point during the 8 hours they are on call.
New Government Office for Enforcing Chicago Employment Ordinances
Beginning on January 1, 2019, Chicago will have a new agency tasked with enforcing the city’s employment ordinances: The Office of Labor Standards (“OLS”). The OLS will investigate and respond to employee complaints under the City’s minimum wage, paid sick time and anti-wage theft laws. These types of complaints were previously handled by the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, which is responsible for business licensing and enforcement of consumer fraud ordinances. It is likely that this change will result in an increased focus on enforcement of City employment ordinances.
Should you have any questions about the new laws for 2019 or any other laws that may affect your business, or would like to schedule an initial consultation, please contact Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC at (847)253-8800 or contact us online.
Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC is a full-service law firm with various areas of service to assist your business, including: Employment Law, Intellectual Property, Commercial Real Estate, Business Immigration, Litigation and general Business Law services. Individual services include Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Probate, Guardianship, Divorce and Family Law.
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