LGLJ Employment Law Update

There are a number of new laws which become effective in the next few months that will affect employers in Illinois. Here are some of the highlights:

Child Bereavement Leave Act
This new law became effective July 29, 2016. It requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide two weeks of unpaid leave to employees to allow them to:

a) attend the funeral (or an alternative to a funeral) of a child;
b) make arrangements necessitated by the death of a child;
c) grieve the death of a child.

Additional provisions include the following:
• The leave must be completed within 60 days of the date on which the employee receives notice of the death of the child;
• The employee must give 48 hours’ notice of taking the leave if practicable;
• The employer may request reasonable documentation (e.g., death certificate);
• If more than one child dies in a a12 month period, the employee can take a total of 6 weeks bereavement leave in the 12 month period.

The new leave is available only to FMLA eligible employees and the leave should run concurrently with FMLA leave when possible. Also, an employee cannot be forced to take vacation time or paid time off during the time he/she is taking this leave.

Domestic Workers
A new bill effective January 1, 2017, creates the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights Act to define what is and what is not a domestic worker and uses this definition to amend the Illinois Human Rights Act, the Minimum Wage Law, the Wages of Women and Minors Act, and the One Day Rest in Seven Act to include domestic workers within the scope of those Acts.

Wage Collection
The Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act has been amended to require the Department of Labor to conduct a good faith search to find aggrieved employees and remit them amounts recovered as unpaid wages, wage supplements, or final compensation. Recovered amounts must be deposited into the Department of Labor Special State Trust Fund. The Department of Labor cannot require an employee who seeks unpaid wages that have been deposited into the Fund to provide a Social Security number as proof of citizenship. This law is effective January 1, 2017.

Victims Economic Security and Safety Act
Effective January 1, 2017 the Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) has been amended to expand the definition of “employer” to include any person who employs at least one employee. Employers with 1-14 employees must provide 4 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period to an employee who is either the victim of domestic or sexual violence, or whose family/household member is the victim of domestic or sexual violence. Current law provides that employers with 15 to 49 employees must provide 8 weeks of unpaid leave and employers with 50 or more are required to provide 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period.

Employee Sick Leave
A new law, the Employee Sick Leave Act, allows employees to use personal sick leave benefits already provided by the employer for absences due to an illness, injury, or medical appointment of the employee’s child, spouse, sibling, parent, mother/father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent for reasonable periods of time as the employee’s attendance may be necessary, on the same terms upon which the employee is able to use sick leave benefits for the employee’s own illness or injury. This new law becomes effective January 1, 2017.

Criminal ID-Expungement
The Criminal Identification Act to has been amended so that, when a petitioner seeks to have a record of arrest expunged, and the offender has been convicted of a criminal offense, the State’s Attorney can object to the expungement on the grounds that the records contain specific relevant information aside from the mere fact of the arrest. If the petitioner has obtained a court order waiving fees under Supreme Court Rule 298 or otherwise waiving the fees, there will be no fee required for filing a petition of expungement or sealing. One year from the effective date or until January 1, 2018, whichever is later, in a county of 3,000,000 or more inhabitants, there will be no fee required for a petitioner if the records sought to be expunged or sealed were arrests resulting in release without charging or arrests/charges not initiated by arrest resulting in acquittal, dismissal, or conviction when the conviction was reversed or vacated. The amendment removes requirements for paying a fee for juvenile records being expunged by the clerk of the circuit court. The amendment is effective January 1, 2017.

Heath Care Workers
Effective January 1, 2017, the Health Care Worker Background Check Act is amended to prohibit health care employers from knowingly hiring, employing, or retaining any individual in a position with certain health care related duties who has been convicted of committing or attempting to commit offenses concerning the manufacturing, delivery, or possession with intent to deliver or manufacture cannabis in excess of 10 grams (rather than any amount).

Wage Assignment Revocation
The Illinois Wage Assignment Act has been amended to allow an employee to revoke a wage assignment at any time by submitting written notice that he/she is revoking the wage assignment to the creditor. A wage assignment notice to the employee must include specified additional statements.

Non-Compete Covenants for Low Wage Employees
The new Illinois Freedom to Work Act prohibits all employers from entering into a covenant not to compete with any low-wage employee of the employer. This law becomes effective January 1, 2017.

Please feel free to contact Tom Weiler or Theresa Bresnahan-Coleman at 312-704-6700 if you have any questions about these new employment law provisions and how they may affect you.