2020 Sweeping Employment Law Changes in Illinois

Illinois employers are going through one of the most sweeping sets of legal changes in state history.  With over 250 new laws taking effect this week, as well as hundreds of other extensive amendments to existing laws, Illinois employers need to take immediate action to remain in compliance with Illinois laws.  The penalties for legal violations have increased per violation and can at times amount to $10,000 or more per violation.

Employers operating in Chicago or Cook County at large have special additional legal needs that must be addressed.

In the process of reviewing the legislative changes, we identified at least 56 separate items that are either mandatory or strongly recommended for all Illinois limited liability companies, corporations, partnerships and other business entities engaging employees in order to comply with the laws, regulations, and ordinances.  Some are mandatory and apply to all businesses, others are optional but expose each company to risk if unaddressed.  Some examples include:

Federal, State, County, and City Postings and Signs

Employers must update their required workplace signs, postings, and employee notices as required under federal law, Illinois law, and local ordinances. Many (if not most) of the signs and notices required as of 2019 are out of date and legally non-compliant;

Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act

Employers need to understand the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, review existing drug testing and use policies, revise or implement new policies to comply with the new law, and implement a compliant “reasonable suspicion” testing program as required;

Review and amend existing discipline policies to comply with new legal mandate, develop new policies if not already in place, create a discipline checklist to document the reasonable suspicion as required by law, add a required employee contest process, and satisfy various other employer mandates under the law;

Review internal training procedures and processes, incorporating federal checklists when applicable, develop internal employee reporting practice, modify hiring and termination practices as required by law, and send out special notices to employees;

Illinois Minimum Wage Law

  • Understanding the new legal mandates applicable to Illinois employers;
  • Reviewing wages to comply with the current wage increases in place each year through 2025;
  • Update record retention policies (even in the case of salaried employees) and undertake compliance efforts with other legal mandates;

Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act

  • Comply with record retention requirements applicable to all employers, even in the case of salaried employees;
  • Review and revise existing expense reimbursement policies to comply with the revised law;
  • Update record retention policies (even in the case of salaried employees) and undertake compliance efforts with other legal mandates;

Workplace Transparency Act (and Illinois Human Rights Act)

  • Learn and understand the new legal mandates;
  • Review and revise harassment policies as required by law;
  • Evaluate training programs for harassment, employment opportunity, discrimination, and other matters required under the act;
  • Track incidents for new mandatory reporting;
  • Revise policies on discrimination to include non-employees;
  • Review and Amend disclosure restrictions in all applicable agreements;
  • New employment agreement language concerning use of arbitration;
  • New settlement agreement laws.

Illinois Equal Pay Act

  • Learn and understand the new legal mandates;
  • Comply with new pay disparity and anti-discrimination requirements;
  • Review confidentiality policies and revise when required by law.

Illinois Human Rights Act

  • Complete the required handbook and policy amendments required under the law;
  • Change recruiting and hiring practices to comply with the revised law;
  • Train staff on compliance with the law;
  • Revise settlement language in future documents.

Equitable Restroom Act

Ensure compliance with the act.

Illinois Working Mothers in the Workplace Act

Revise policy for breaks to comply with the law.

Additional Laws and Ordinances

Comply with dozens of other new or amended laws, regulations, and ordinances when applicable to the employer. Failure to comply with these new laws and amendments will potentially expose Illinois employers to substantial legal liability and may even expose the owners of the employers to personal liability under certain circumstances.

All Illinois businesses would be well advised to seek immediate legal counsel on to ensure compliance with the recently enacted laws, regulations, and ordinances. Please note that under Illinois law, it is illegal for accountants and HR consultants to provide legal advice or amend and customize legal policies for Illinois employers. Only a licensed attorney can provide legal advice for businesses regarding these sweeping legal changes.

Contact our Chicago Law Firm

If you are an employer in Illinois and have question concerning the new 2020 sweeping employment law changes, please contact one of our Chicago business attorneys today.

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