Illinois Labor Laws

Illinois labor laws are primarily considered to be employee-friendly. Some state employment requirements can be found below to help employers understand the scope and range of laws impacting employer-employee relations.

Employers must comply with both state and federal law. Employers must also comply with any applicable municipal legislation that impacts the employment of their workers, in addition to adhering to state and federal regulations.

Labor and Employment Law Overview: Illinois

Employers in the state of Illinois are barred from showing any discrimination against their employees on any basis, and on a number of factors.

State law restricts an employer’s ability to use ability tests, records of arrest, break periods, and/or child labor.

Illinois establishes requisites related to the payment of wages, pay rate, paydays, wage deductions, healthcare processing, and notifications.

In Illinois, leave requirements include family military break, blood donation leave, civil service and/or jury duty leave, and school visitation leave.

Some employers are required to provide advanced notice of any of their plants closing. The same applies to mass layoffs.

New Illinois Employment Laws for 2015

There are three new employment laws on the books that took effect for Illinois employers statewide in January of 2015. The first is known as the Illinois “Ban-the-Box” law.

The second new law is called the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, also known as the PWFA, which consists of legislative amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act, known as the IHRA, which poses restrictions on employers on the ways in which they can treat any and all pregnant employees and applicants. It applies to all employers with one or more employees.

The PWFA also forbids discrimination against any applicants or employees because of her pregnancy, or due to her requesting any sort of accommodation for her pregnancy. The third law is an amendment to the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, also known as the IWPCA, which permits employers the right to pay their employees’ wages using payroll debit cards. However, these amendments are based around strict requirements.

State law also requires their employers to adhere to PWFA. They have to post notices to their employees, and include the PWFA information in any employee handbooks that are distributed as a condition of employment. Training materials must make the restrictions clear.

All employers with one employee or more in the state of Illinois should be thorough and review their employment procedures. They should modify them where necessary, and provide adequate and appropriate training to all staff, particularly supervisors and managers.

The PWFA

The most impactful and significant requirements of the PWFA are the duties of employers to provide accommodations within reason is requested by one of their employees or applicants due to a pregnancy, medical condition, or childbirth-related event, unless that employer can demonstrate to the state that the accommodation would impose unneeded and undue hardships on the business or company’s property.

This requirement is very similar the duty that’s imposed on employers wherein they are required to reasonably accommodate disabled employees and applicants under the Americans with Disabilities Act, also known as the ADA, in order to grant them the right to perform essential functions of the job that a given applicant seeks, or that a current employee holds.

Provisions of the PWFA that concern reasonable accommodations are very similar to the rules that were established by the EEOC with its non-binding pregnancy discrimination guidance, although the IHRA amendments are different in that they are legally binding in the state of Illinois, are more specific, and in other respects.

While the PWFA does mandate interactive processes between employers and employees or applicants to attempt to come to an agreement on reasonable accommodations as defined by the ADA, the PWFA prohibits any employers from requiring any applicants or employees to accept accommodations selected by employers, particularly if the parties are unable to agree on an accommodation.

The PWFA remains silent as to the recourse any employer has in the situation where an applicant or employee rejects an employer’s offered accommodations.

Employers must agree to an accommodation of some kind as requested by applicants and employees, or must agree to one that is medically advisable by the employee or applicant’s health care provider, unless the business entity can establish that such accommodations would incur hardships for the business or its property.

PWFA also permits employers from obtaining documentations from an applicant or employee’s health care provider in respect to the requirements and needs for requested accommodations, given the employee gives the appropriate authorization, to the same extent that it seeks such documents for conditions that may qualify as an inability to perform the job, such as disabilities, although the PWFA does not view pregnancy as a disability.

The PWFA further prohibits what a given employer may request in respect to medical justification for requested accommodations, descriptions of accommodations that are medically advisable, the date the requested accommodation became medically contraindicated, and the probable or likely durable of the accommodation, if applicable.

The PWFA also contains a non-exclusive list of reasonable accommodations. This list includes more frequent and longer bathroom breaks, and/or breaks for water intake and periodic rest and recovery, private non-bathroom breaks for breastfeeding children, seating, manual labor, assistance with light duties, transfers, accessing features of the work site, reassignment to internal vacant positions, time off to recover from childbirth or any conditions that arise from it, or any medical issues that require time off from work.

If leave is granted and is legally considered to be a reasonable accommodation, the employee must be reinstated, by law, to their original job, or the equivalent position and with equivalent pay, with the same accumulated seniority and credit for retirement, along with all other benefits, regardless of the length of leave. That is with the exception of situations where the employer can readily demonstrate that such a reinstatement would pose unneeded and undue hardships for the company.

Leave policies, particularly those that provide for termination of an employee’s status within the company if they do not return from their assigned leave within an agreed-upon, or policies that don’t provide for an employee’s full reinstatement to the identical or equivalent position would, under state law, probably be viewed as unlawful as it pertains to pregnancy leave, absent sufficient proof of undue hardships to the company.

The Payroll Card Amendments to IWPCA

Should an employee paid through a payroll card request to be paid by a different permissible method, that employer must then pay that employee by the other means requested by the employee within two pay periods.

Under the IWPCA, employers in the state of Illinois can pay employees with a check, in cash, or via authorized and legal direct deposit to an account at a bank or accredited financial institution designation by the applicant or employee.

Due to the growing use of internal payroll debit cards being used, as well as the number of abuses that stem from the usage of these cards, employers in the state of Illinois will be allowed to pay their employees using payroll debit cards, under the sole condition they meet strict requirements meant to keep themselves, and the company, safe.

In concurrence with the IWPCA, employers cannot require their employees to accept payment in the form of payroll cards as a condition of employment. All employers are required to provide a clear written disclosure, which is to contain the notice that payment by way of payroll debit card is strictly discretionary, as well as a list of other permissible methods by which an employee can be paid, as well as a notice that third parties may assess and implement transaction fees on top of the fees assessed by payroll card issuers and banks, as well as an explanation as to how employees may obtain, free of charge, their net wages, account balances, and access to paper and electronic transaction histories.

Employers are obligated to obtain an employee’s written and electronic consent, to be paid by way of payroll debit prior to paying any employee via a payroll card, and they must provide other means (where permissible) for employees to receive their pay.

Employees, on the other hand, must be provided with at least a single method of withdrawing their due compensation from a payroll card, no less than twice in a month, free of charge to the employee, and at a physical location that is available to the employee.

At the request of employees, they will be entitled to a transaction history record each month in either electronic or paper form, and will be granted unlimited telephone records access in order to obtain the employee’s payroll account balance free of charge.

Employers are not permitted to use their internal payroll card programs that charge a fee for point of sale transactions. The same applies for the application, loading, or initiation of wages by an employer, or a participant in the hiring processes.

Declined transaction fees and account inactivity fees are permitted under certain circumstances, and on limited basis. These payroll cards are not to be linked to any form of credit whatsoever.

Wages

The current minimum wage is $8.25 in the state of Illinois

State employees cannot be coerced or forced to accept any form of payment that requires the usage of a personal bank or checking account. Employers may, however, volunteer to be paid directly via a deposit to their accounts at a bank or accredited financial institution of their choice.

Illinois labor laws don’t require any employers to provide their employees with severance pay. When it is given, it is given at the discretion of the employer. If an employer does choose to provide severance pay and/or benefits, the process must comply with the terms of the company’s internal, established policy and/or employment contracts.

Minus any legally binding exemptions on the executive, administrative, and professional levels as defined under the state Fair Labor Standards Act, an employee’s wages must be paid at least semi-monthly, and payment must be made within 13 days of a given pay period in which the employee worked ends.

Commissions, however, only need to be paid on a monthly basis.

Employers must notify their employees of any reductions in the employee’s rate of pay prior ro that employee actually performing any duties or work.

If that employee must be paid the minimum wage that reduction may not cause that employee to be paid any less than whatever the applicable minimum wage rate is.

Prior to an employer reducing an employee’s wages, the company’s HR firm should confirm that the reduction is permissible and legal under the terms of applicable bargaining agreements or employment contracts.

State law requires employers to pay employees for all hours worked, regardless of circumstance.

State law defines hours worked as any and all time employees are required to remain on duty, on the company’s property, at a location tied to performing the job, and/or any additional time they are required to work.

This includes meal periods and any time spent by employees on-call, even when they are away from the employer’s premises, if that time is predominantly spent for the benefit of the employer as opposed to the employee. Only some wage deductions are permissible under state law. Deductions can be made if and when required for taxes.

Deductions are only made if they benefit the employee health insurance plan, union dues, and so on. These deductions are made with the employee’s express consent, and must be in writing, as well as given freely at the time of the deduction.

Work-related items, such as uniforms and/or tools are not required. Every pay period, employees are required to receive an itemized list of deductions from their employers.

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