What Illinois Employers Need to Know to Be Prepared for 2023
If the past two years didn’t bring enough new challenges and changes to the workplace, Illinois has dusted off the books making substantial changes to two essential employment laws. With these amendments employers should be prepared to update their existing handbook policies and some possible redecorating as with these changes comes some new notice-posting requirements. Click for the full text of the Child Bereavement Leave Act, One Day Rest In Seven Act, and the Minimum Wage Law to view the new amendments, or keep reading below as we break each one down for you.
Illinois Bereavement Leave
Formerly known as the Child Bereavement Leave Act, the newly named Family Bereavement Leave Act applies to public and private employers with at least 50 employees. To be eligible, employees must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the prior 12-month period.
The major amendment to the Act creates additional categories of leave for pregnancy-related events. Now, employers must provide up to 10 workdays of unpaid leave to employees who are absent due to any of the following pregnancy related events:
- A miscarriage
- An unsuccessful round of intrauterine insemination or an assisted reproductive technology procedure
- A failed adoption match or an adoption that is not finalized because it is contested by another party
- A failed surrogacy agreement
- A diagnosis that negatively impacts pregnancy or fertility
- A stillbirth
Previously the Act only covered bereavement leave for the loss of a child, now – as its new name suggests – applies to covered family members. Employers are required to provide 10 workdays of unpaid leave for employees attending the funeral of a covered family member, making arrangements necessitated by the death of a covered family member, or grieving the death of a covered family member.
Who is a Covered Family Member?
A covered family member under the Act includes children, stepchildren, spouses, domestic partners, siblings, parents, parents-in-law, grandchildren, grandparents, or stepparents. The Act also defines “domestic partners” to include adults who are in a committed relationship and is not limited to legally recognized partnerships.
Employers May Request “Reasonable Documentation”
Employers can request reasonable documentation to support an employee’s request for pregnancy related leave. However, employers may not require an employee to identify which event the leave pertains to as a condition of exercising rights under the Act.
Reasonable documentation includes:
- A form provided by IDOL to be filled out by a healthcare practitioner who has treated the employee, the employee’s spouse or domestic partner, or the surrogate for a covered event
- Documentation from the adoption or surrogacy organization that the employee worked with certifying that the employee or his or her spouse or domestic partner has experienced a covered event
The Act still allows employers to request documentation to support bereavement leave for the death of a family member such as a death certificate or a published obituary.
Illinois One Day Rest in Seven (ODRISA)
ODRISA continues to apply to Illinois employers with one or more employees and continues to exclude certain categories of employees from coverage, such as part-time employees, employees who are employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity, or as an outside salesman, and one new category of employees whose hours, days, and rest periods are established through the collective bargaining process.
The amendments to ODRISA redefine the period in which an employee is entitled to 24 consecutive hours of rest and include new meal breaks and employer notice obligations. The law also places heavy penalties on employers that violate the meal and rest break requirements.
Calendar Week vs. Seven Day Period
ODRISA required that employers provide covered employees with 24 consecutive hours of rest in every calendar week. The amendment replaces calendar week and now requires 24 consecutive hours of rest in every consecutive seven-day period. This change now applies to any employee who works six consecutive days, regardless of whether the employee’s schedule aligns with a Sunday to Saturday calendar workweek.
ODRISA already required employers to provide employees who work 7½ continuous hours with at least 20 minutes for a meal period starting no later than 5 hours after they begin work. The amendment now requires employers to provide an additional 20-minute meal period for every additional 4½ continuous hours worked for those employees who work more than 7½ continuous hours. The Act now clarifies that a meal period does not include time spent using the restroom facilities. So, an employee who works a 12-hour shift is now entitled to two unpaid meal periods.
The amendments further require employers to “conspicuously” post in the workplace a notice provided by IDOL which summarizes the Act’s requirements and provides information for filing a complaint. For remote or traveling employees, employers must provide the notice by email or on a website “regularly used by the employer to communicate work-related information, that all employees are able to regularly access, freely and without interference.”
Employers will face heightened penalties and damages depending on the employer’s size:
(1) For an employer with fewer than 25 employees, a penalty not to exceed $250 per offense, payable to the Department of Labor, and damages of up to $250 per offense, payable to the employee or employees affected.
(2) For an employer with 25 or more employees, a penalty not to exceed $500 per offense, payable to the Department of Labor, and damages of up to $500 per offense, payable to the employee or employees affected.
An offense under ODRISA is determined on an individual basis for each employee whose rights are violated. Employers should note that fines can multiply quickly under the new amendments as each day or week in which the violation occurs is treated as a separate offense.
Illinois and Chicago Minimum Wage Increases in 2023
Illinois Minimum Wage
In 2019, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed legislation into law providing annual increases to Illinois’ minimum wage rate so that by 2025 the rate will be $15 per hour and $9 for tipped workers. Currently the 2022 rates are $12 per hour and $7.20 for tipped workers. Effective January 2023, Illinois minimum wage is set to increase to $13 per hour and $7.80 for tipped workers.
City of Chicago Minimum Wage
Every July 1 Chicago’s minimum wage increases per the Minimum Wage Ordinance. The minimum wage for larger employers who have 21 or more employees increases annually according to the Consumer Price Index or 2.5%, whichever is lower, since reaching $15 per hour in 2021. The minimum wage for small employers who have more than 3 but fewer than 21 employees will raise on July 1, 2023 to $15 per hour.
The CROWN Act
The CROWN Act came into effect on January 1, 2023, and creates a ban on race-based hair discrimination. The CROWN Act (CROWN stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair”) amends the Illinois Human Rights Act by expanding the definition of “race” for the purposes of unlawful discrimination in Illinois to include “traits associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles such as braids, locks, and twists.” This new definition is not exhaustive, meaning there are a number of possible hairstyles and hair textures that could fall under this protection – braids, locks and twists is just a small example.
The CROWN Act does not prohibit an employer from creating and enforcing a dress code or grooming policy. Employers can still require certain dress or appearance but must be careful that their policies refrain from discriminating, or potentially discriminating, against individuals for wearing their hair in its natural texture or in a protected hairstyle. Employers who maintain an appearance policy or similar dress code should be sure to allow employees to maintain their hair as to not restrict hairstyles and natural textures.
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