On August 9, 2019, Governor Pritzker signed the Workplace Transparency Act into law. The Workplace Transparency Act will apply to all contract, agreements, clauses, or waivers entered into, modified, or extended on or after January 1, 2020.
The Workplace Transparency Act applies to any contracts entered into with employees or non-employees.
Employers may no longer unilaterally require arbitration of any claim arising under any law enforced by the EEOC or IDHR.
Employers cannot unilaterally prevent an employee or prospective employee from making truthful statements or disclosures about alleged unlawful employment practices.
Illinois Sexual Harassment Training Requirements (Effective 01/01/2020)
As part of the Workplace Transparency Act; effective January 1, 2020, Illinois employers will have to provide annual sexual harassment training to all employees. The first deadline date to complete this training is January 1, 2021. Specifically, the training must include:
An explanation of sexual harassment;
Examples of conduct that constitutes unlawful sexual harassment;
A summary of relevant federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment, including remedies available to victims of sexual harassment, and
A summary of responsibilities of employers in the prevention, investigation, and corrective measures of sexual harassment.
The Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) will develop a model training program, as required under the new law, but no deadline has been set for when the program will be made available to the public.
Illinois Equal Pay Act: Salary History Ban (Effective 09/29/2019)
On July 31, 2019, Governor Pritzker signed into law an amendment to the Equal Pay Act of 2003. The Equal Pay Act of 2003 made it illegal to discriminate against employees regarding pay based on sex or race. The new salary amendment was signed in an effort to close the gender wage gap and the law is set to go into effect on September 29, 2019.
The law prohibits an employer from seeking the salary history, including benefits or other compensation, of a job applicant from any current or former employer. While employers can no longer inquire about salary history, the law does allow certain related information to be discussed with applicants. Employers may provide information about the compensation and benefits offered in the position. They may also discuss with an applicant his/her expectation regarding compensation and benefits. Applicants may voluntarily disclose their current or prior compensation and benefits history; employers may not consider that information when making employment and compensation decisions.
Additionally, the law provides further protections to employees allowing them to discuss wages and benefits with others. Employers are now prohibited from requiring employees to sign a contract or waiver prohibiting them from discussing compensation and benefit information.
What to do…
Employers should establish guidelines and conduct training for employees involved in the interviewing and hiring process regarding questions eliciting previous or current compensation and benefit information.
Employers should review their applications or other documents used in the screening process to ensure they do not elicit previous or current compensation and benefit information.
Employers should review their internal documents such as handbooks and policies to ensure they do not prohibit employees from discussing compensation information with other employees.
Overtime Rule Changes (Effective 01/01/2020)
On September 24, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor announced changes to the earnings thresholds necessary to classify employees as exempt. The last update the employee earnings threshold occurred in 2004.
The final rule will include the following:
Raising the “standard salary level” from the currently enforced level of $455 per week to $684 per week (equivalent to $35,568 per year for a full-year worker);
Raising the total annual compensation requirement for “highly compensated employees” from the currently enforced level of $100,000 per year to $107,432 per year;
Allowing employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) paid at least annually to satisfy up to 10% of the standard salary level, in recognition of evolving pay practices; and
Revising the special salary levels for workers in U.S. territories and the motion picture industry.
Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (Effective 01/01/2020)
On June 25, 2019, Governor Pritzker signed into law the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act which will legalize recreational use of marijuana. The new law will make it legal for individuals over the age of 21 to purchase and consume cannabis in the state of Illinois and includes protections for employees that choose to use cannabis while away from the job.
Impacting employers, the law amends the state’s Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act to include any product that is “legal under state law,” which will now include cannabis. The law makes it illegal for employers to refuse to hire or discharge any individual, or otherwise disadvantage an individual, with respect to compensation terms, conditions or privileges of employment because an individual uses cannabis outside of work.
The law allows employers to take action against an employee on the basis of the employee’s impairment in the workplace. According to the law, this action may take place if the employer has a “good faith” belief that the employee is impaired as a result of their use of cannabis.
What to do…
Develop zero-tolerance drug policies prohibiting the possession of marijuana at the worksite and impairment while on the job.
Provide supervisors and employees with training and tools to enable them to spot a cannabis-impaired employee.
Explain to employees and managers the employee’s rights when it comes to challenging the employer’s good faith belief of impairment, and the procedures outlining that process.
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