Here's a Look at New Laws Affecting Illinois Small Businesses

Date: August 27, 2019

Here’s a look at several new laws and regulations that could have a big impact on your small business. If you have questions, contact NFIB State Director Mark Grant at [email protected].

Public Act 101-0177 Wage History Question Prohibition (effective Oct. 1)

 Amends the Equal Pay Act of 2003 prohibiting an employer from:

  • screening job applicants based on their wage or salary history,
  • requiring that an applicant’s prior wages satisfy minimum or maximum criteria,
  • requesting or requiring that an applicant disclose prior wages or salary as a condition of being interviewed or as a condition of continuing to be considered for an offer of employment.
  • The law prohibits an employer from seeking the salary, including benefits or other compensation or salary history, of a job applicant from any current or former employer, with some exceptions.
  • Potential employees may freely provide past salary information, but employers must not ask for it.

Employers who do not comply could face fines and penalties from the Illinois Department of Labor and well as potential civil action and lawsuits.

Small Business Retirement Plans (effective Nov. 1 for businesses with 25-99 employees)

Illinois Secure Choice is a Roth IRA program run by the Illinois Treasurer’s Office.  This program is directed at employers (with 25 or more employees) that do not already offer a savings plan for their employees. Employers with 25-99 employees must register by October.

The savings accounts are owned by individual participants and will be portable from job-to-job. Their accounts will be pooled and managed by a private investment company selected through a competitive bidding process.

  • Their Illinois Secure Choice account is a Roth IRA
  • The default savings rate is 5% of gross pay, but they can choose to change their contribution level or fund option at any time
  • Employees will be auto enrolled after 30 days and will begin saving through payroll contributions
  • Employees who do not want to participate MUST opt-out.
Public Act 101-0001 Minimum Wage Increase (effective Jan. 1, 2020)

The minimum wage will increase to $15 per hour by 2025. Employers will see two hikes in 2020. Tipped workers can still be paid 60% of the regular minimum wage. The new law also includes a payroll deduction tax credit for employers of 50 or few workers.

The first increase be $1 to $9.25 on Jan 1, 2020, followed by a 75 cent increase to $10 an hour on July 1, 2020.

Public Act 101-0221 Employment Discrimination/Sexual Harassment (effective Jan. 1, 2020)

This major expansion of Illinois’ employment discrimination law covers a variety of issues that all employers must be aware of and adhere to. In summary:

  • Requires employers to train workers annually on preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. The Illinois Department of Human Rights is required to make a training program free on-line to employers to provide to workers. Current or alternative training that an employer provides is acceptable if it meets the minimum criteria required of the training There are additional training requirements for bars and restaurants.
  • Expands the Victims Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) to allow victims of gender violence to take unpaid leave from work for medical, legal, counseling or safety assistance.
  • Makes harassment against contract workers/employees illegal (they were not covered in the past).
  • Prevents a union representative from representing both a victim of sexual harassment and the alleged harasser in a disciplinary meeting.
  • Clarifies that it is illegal to discriminate against as employee if they are perceived to be part of a protected class (e.g.: gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity) even if they are not.
  • Limits the use of employee non-disclosure agreements, arbitration clauses, and non-disparagement clauses in relation to sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation.
  • Creates the Hotel and Casino Employee Safety Act, requiring such employers to adopt anti-sexual harassment policies and make safety devices available to employees.
  • Requires employers to report charges filed against it by Illinois employees for employment discrimination and sexual harassment.
Public Act 101-0430 Human Rights Act (effective July 1, 2020)

Amends the Illinois Human Rights Act so that it applies to all employers with one or more employees within Illinois during 20 or more calendar weeks within the calendar year. Previously, the act applied to employers with 15 or more employees.

Employers required poster includes the information needed for Wage Payment and Collection Act, Child Labor Law, Minimum Wage Law, Equal Pay Act, Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act and the One Day Rest in Seven Act.

It is available on the Illinois Department of Labor web page or by contacting the agency at 312-793-2800.



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