New Laws Affecting Illinois Businesses in 2024

The Illinois government has been busy in 2023 enacting hundreds of new law with Governor Pritzker signed hundreds of measures into law – including House Bill 2862 amending the Illinois’ Day and Temporary Labor Services Act which went into effect immediately.  These new laws range from designating October as Italian-American Heritage Month to expanding protections for Native Americans in Illinois to the Digital Forgeries Act which holds that individuals have a right to legal recourse if they are the target of “deep fakes” or digitally-altered sexual images to Paid Leave for All Workers Act which has been giving businesses all over the state heartburn since the day it was announced.

As you can see, not all of these newly enacted laws directly impact businesses, however many of the new laws that affect businesses are causing owners and executives to scramble to update policies and employee handbooks. Below we highlight a few of these new laws going into effect as of January 1, 2024, and discuss what businesses need to consider to bring their policies into compliance.

  • HB 2068Transportation Benefits Program Act:

This Act applies to all employers with 50 or more employees, and that are located within one mile of regularly scheduled transit service, will be required to allow eligible employees to exclude public transit costs from their taxable wages.  For more information on this Act, see our blog here.

What do businesses need to do?

Covered employers should investigate participating programs offered by the Chicago Transit Authority or the Regional Transportation Authority and determine which works best for their business so they can begin the process to implement the program.  

  • HB 2431 – Banning videoconferencing while driving:

This bill amends the Illinois Vehicle Code, which now explicitly forbids using an electronic communication device to participate in a video conference or access a social media site. While the bill does allow exemptions if the device can be used in a hands-free or voice-activated manner, this new law will impact those employees you like to join company zoom calls while driving.

What do businesses need to do?

Update your employee handbook and employee polices to include a restriction on participating in video conferencing or accessing a social media site while driving for work duties.

  • HB 2493 – Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) Reform

This new law expands VESSA leave eligibility to family members who have lost loved ones to violence, for those who are not otherwise eligible for bereavement leave under other laws. Victims now have 10 days of unpaid leave to grieve or make funeral arrangements, helping survivors heal and putting an end to cycles of victimization.

What do businesses need to do?

Update your employee handbook and employee polices to include a reference to the new leave category under VESSA.  

  • SB 2034 Illinois Child Extended Bereavement Leave

The new law provides extended leave to employee’s that experience the loss of a child by suicide or homicide.  The maximum leave allowed depends upon the number of employees employed by a business. For employers with 250 or more full-time employees, a maximum of 12 weeks of unpaid leave is allowed. For a business that employs at least 50 but fewer than 250 full-time employees, a maximum of 6 weeks of unpaid leave is allowed.

What do businesses need to do?

If you have 50 or more full-time employees, update your employee handbook and employee polices to include allow for the extended bereavement leave. 

  • HB3491 Amendment to Prevailing Wage Act

This new law provides that any laborer, worker, or mechanic who is employed by a contractor or by any sub-contractor and is paid for services in a sum less than the prevailing wage rates for work performed on a project can file an action for whatever difference there may be between (i) the amount so paid and (ii) the prevailing rates required to be paid for work performed on the project.

In other words, any worker, laborer or mechanic performing construction work on a prevailing wage project can file a private cause of action against the employer for any differential between what was paid and what was required to be paid to them pursuant to the IPWA. This is true even when the employer didn’t receive actual written notice that they are performing work on a prevailing wage project — which is required under the IPWA — they are still liable in a civil lawsuit brought by their employees for failing to pay the proper prevailing wage.

Contractors need to be vigilant to ensure the application of all requirements under the IPWA are met for the work performed and contract indemnity provisions and/or other contractual terms must be carefully inserted into Illinois construction contracts in order to try and alleviate the hidden financial burdens.

The new law that is giving most employers heartburn: in March 2023 Governor JB Pritzker signed SB208 into law, making Illinois the third state in the nation, and the first in the Midwest, to mandate paid time off to be used for any reason. This new legislation provides employees with up to 40 hours of paid leave during a 12-month period. We go into detail on this new law on our blog here.

What do businesses need to do?

Revisit your PTO, vacation and/or sick leave polices to not only ensure you comply but also to ensure you are not extending an additional weeks leave to your employees by not carving out a leave block specific to this new law.  

  • Amendment to the Gender Violence Act

The Gender Violence Act creates a civil cause of action for any person who has been subjected to “gender-related violence” a form of sex discrimination. The amendment clarifies the application of the law to employers in certain situations and updates the definition of “gender-related violence” to include “domestic violence” as that term is defined in the Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act.

What do businesses need to do?

Training is the key here. The Act creates a defense for the employer if they had proper training and investigation policies and procedures in place (and of course followed those policies).

  • Amendment to Personnel Record Review Act

This Act sets out the employees right to review their personnel records and sets out the employers obligations related to providing those records. This Amendment does a few things, but the key item employers should know about is employers must accept requests to email copies of requested records to the employee, instead of mailing requested copies.

What do businesses need to do?

Most likely this won’t come as a change to how employer provide copies of the employee records

  • Amendment to Employee Blood and Organ Donation Leave Act

Previously called the Employee Blood Donation Leave Act, this Act gives employees the right to take one hour of paid leave every 56 days for the purpose of donating blood. The amended Act – The Employee Blood and Organ Donation Leave Act – gives employees who donate organs or tissue up to ten days of paid leave in any 12-month period. This leave applies to private employers with 51 or more employees. Employees must be employed for at least six months before they are eligible for the leave benefit.

What do businesses need to do?

Applicable Employers should familiarize themselves with the requirements and determine whether they want to add this leave category to their employee handbook.

  • The Corporate Transparency Act (CTA),

Not to be left out, the Federal Government has a new law that is impacting most small business. The Corporate Transparency Act (CTA), enacted in 2021, was passed as part of the National Defense Authorization Act and creates reporting obligations for businesses, including small businesses that are usually exempt from these type of obligations.  More information can be found on our blog here.

What do businesses need to do?

Make sure you understand your reporting obligation and deadline. Also, businesses should update their governance documents to ensure all beneficial owners comply with the act and notify the business when changes occur that require reporting.

  • Chicago’s One Fair Wage Ordinance

Chicago has been busy this year, with 2 new ordinances shaking up employers. The passage of the One Fair Wage ordinance making Chicago the first major city to independently abolish the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers. The One Fair Wage Ordinance phases out the City’s subminimum wage for tipped workers over a five-year period. For information on the One Fair Wage Ordinance, see our blog here.

  • Chicago’s Paid Leave and Paid Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance

The new Paid Leave and Paid Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance goes beyond the statewide paid leave policy taking effect next year that requires businesses to provide five days of paid leave — and makes Chicago’s ordinance one of the most expansive measures in the nation. Read our blog for a high-level review of this new requirement on Chicago employers.

  • HB 3236 – Amendment to the Sales Finance Agency Act

This new law provides that contracts, transactions and agreements that extend credit to a consumer to purchase a dog or cat will be null and void.

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