New Year. New Laws for Employers.

The year 2020 began with over 250 new state laws – while many considered the legalization of recreational marijuana would be the largest impact on employers, it was The Workplace Transparency Act – which resulted in employers needing to significantly overhaul their employee handbooks, employment agreements and offer letters, confidentiality agreements, severance agreements and many other documents – that initially caused the biggest impact.

And then came COVID-19 and everything changed.  Suddenly all the focus was on the Families First Coronavirus Act with its paid sick leave and expanded FMLA.  Employers we were learning new processes for safety and worrying about stocking up on PPE and securing PPP loans.  With the legislature being busy with all things pandemic we have a bit of a reprieve when it comes to new laws in 2021 that directly impact employers.

So, what do employers need to know going in to 2021?

Minimum Wage Increase (Public Act 101-0001)

As of January 1, 2021, the minimum wage will increase to $11 an hour for standard workers, $6.60 an hour for tipped workers, and $8.50 an hour for workers under the age of 18 who workless than 650 hours per calendar year. Employers are required to pay workers under the age of 18 the full minimum wage if they work more than 650 hours in a calendar year. Illinois is one of the states set to raise their minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, with more increases planned each year until that time.

Pandemic Policies

While Illinois has not introduced new laws mandating you implement new pandemic policies into your employee handbook, the number of issues that have come to light with the current COVID-19 crisis highlights the importance of incorporating general policies related to pandemic issues into your handbook.  Also consider adding a reference to the “Pandemic Coordinator” or “Emergency Coordinator” so employees know where to go to get more information about emergency response procedure.


While there are many other laws that are going into effect, the minimum wage increase is the law that impacts Illinois employers – but… did you know that new laws went into effect during the pandemic?  New laws that were not related to the pandemic, and still impact businesses across the state.  Yes, on July 1, 2020 a number of laws became effective, so it is important to make sure you are familiar with those as well and have updated your handbooks/policies accordingly.

These are the – non pandemic related – laws went into effect in Illinois in July, 2020:

Illinois Human Rights Act Amendments

SB 75 brings about significant changes to the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) and broadens the responsibilities of all employers covered by its terms. Importantly, SB 75 amends the IHRA to include new reporting requirements and mandatory sexual-harassment-prevention training.

Sexual Harassment Prevention and Annual Training

While the law initially required employers with 15 employees or more to provide sexual harassment prevention training once a year, starting on July 1, 2020 the obligation expanded to all employers with at least 1 employee.  The law specifies that, at a minimum, training include definitions of sexual harassment, examples of conduct that is unlawful, and examples of appropriate and inappropriate conduct by a supervisor. The training sessions should also review federal and state laws, employees’ rights and available remedies, and a list of responsibilities companies have in handling claims.

All Employees Protected From Discrimination

The size of an employer will no longer determine whether workers will be protected from discrimination on the basis of race, sex, age, sexual orientation, religion and a range of other protected categories. The definition of employer in the Illinois Human Rights Act was changed to mean anyone employing one or more person in the state for 20 or more weeks within the calendar year. Previously, employer was defined under the act as having 15 or more people under employment.


Beginning July 1, 2020, and every July 1 thereafter, an employer that has had at least one adverse judgment or ruling against it in the preceding calendar year must disclose to the Illinois Department of Human Rights the total number of final, non-appealable judgments or final, non-appealable administrative rulings entered against the employer in which there was a finding of sexual harassment or unlawful discrimination. At this time, it is unclear whether this applies to all judgments against an employer or only to those that have occurred in Illinois.


Hotel and Casino Employee Safety Act takes effect July 1, 2020

Hotels and casinos must supply employees working in areas alone safety or notification devices to call for help if needed.  The law also requires  hotel and casino employers to include in an anti-sexual harassment policy a provision allowing employees to take paid time off to file a police report or criminal complaint.


Chicago Fair Workweek

Chicago’s Fair Workweek Ordinance requires certain employers to provide workers with predictable work schedules and compensation for changes. Employees are covered by the ordinance if they work in one of seven “covered” industries (Building Services, Healthcare, Hotels, Manufacturing, Restaurants, Retail, and Warehouse Services), they make less than $26/hour or $50,000/year, and the employer has at least 100 employees globally (250 employees and 30 locations for a restaurant).  Covered employees are given:

  • Advance notice of work schedule (10 days beginning July 1, 2020)
  • Right to decline previously unscheduled hours
  • 1 hour of Predictability Pay for any shift change within 10 days
  • Right to rest by declining work hours less than 10 hours after the end of previous day’s shift


If you have questions about any of these new laws, or would like to schedule an initial consultation, please contact Navigant Law Group, LLC at (847) 253-8800 or email us at

Navigant Law Group, LLC is a full-service law firm with various areas of service to assist you and your business. Individual services include Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Probate, and Guardianship. Business services include: Contract Law, Employment Law, Intellectual Property, WBE/MBE/VBE certification, Commercial Real Estate, and other general Business Law services.

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