Each new year brings with it a fresh slate of additional laws and regulations. At the start of 2022, from the federal to the local level, numerous legal changes have taken effect, bringing with them new duties, obligations, and rights. Below are some of the most pertinent changes for both businesses and employees in Illinois, Cook County, and Chicago.
Minimum Wage Hikes
The Illinois minimum wage was increased from $11.00 to $12.00 per hour on the first of the year. The wage will continue to rise to $15.00 per hour in 2025.
Tipped workers must make a minimum of $7.20 per hour. They may receive 60% of the hourly minimum wage from their employers, but they must hit the minimum wage with tips factored in. If they do not, the employer must make up the difference.
Workers under 18 years old may be paid $9.25 per hour if they work less than 650 hours in a calendar year. Once they hit 650 hours, their hourly wage must convert to the standard $12.00 per hour. Find more information on Illinois’ minimum wage here.
The minimum wage in Cook County for non-tipped employees remains at $13.00 per hour, which took effect on July 1, 2021. Tipped workers must now make a minimum of $7.20, to align with Illinois’ standard. More information on Cook County’s wage regulations can be found here.
Illinois Equal Pay Reporting
The Illinois Equal Pay Act (IEPA) was amended in June 2021 to require some employers to send certain pay and demographic information to the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) and to receive an equal pay registration certificate. The amendments concern private employers in Illinois with over 100 employees that are already required to file an EEO-1 form annually with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Companies licensed to do business in Illinois on or before March 23, 2021 must procure an equal pay registration certificate between March 24, 2022 and March 23, 2024. They must recertify every two years after that. Companies licensed in Illinois after March 23, 2021 must obtain their certificate within three years of opening, but not before January 1, 2024. They, too, must recertify every two years after that. The IDOL will contact businesses with their date for obtaining the certificate.
These companies must submit various information to the IDOL:
- A statement certifying compliance with equal pay regulations and non-discrimination laws.
- Their most recent Employer Information Report, EEO-1.
- Various demographic data and wage records.
Prinz Partner Amit Bindra was a primary author of Illinois’ newly minted non-compete law. Non-competes are employment contracts that prevent workers from going to work for a competing business. These contracts can severely restrict employees, but the new law allows employees more freedom, while still permitting businesses to protect their information and trade secrets. The provisions of the law include:
- Non-compete restrictions are banned for individuals making less than $75,000 per year.
- Non-solicit restrictions are banned for individuals making less than $45,000 per year.
- An employee must work for an employer for at least 2 years before a non-compete agreement becomes enforceable, unless an employer provides some additional benefit.
- Employers must give employees notice of their non-compete and non-solicit obligations.
- If an employee wins a lawsuit over a non-compete or non-solicitation clause, the employee can recover attorneys’ fees and costs.
Learn more about this law here.
COVID-19 and Workplace Vaccinations
Although the Emergency Temporary Standard of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been withdrawn, Cook County and the City of Chicago nonetheless have instituted vaccine regulations for workers. Workers are not under a vaccine mandate, but employers must record the vaccination status of each worker. Employers must also require proof of a negative COVID-19 test from unvaccinated workers who report at least once a week to a place of work in which others are present. A new test is needed every 7 days.
Reporting Requirements for A.I. in Hiring
Amendments to Illinois’ Artificial Intelligence Video Interview Act (AIVIA) requiring reporting of demographic data took effect on January 1st. Employers that determine whom to interview for a position by depending on analysis of video interviews using artificial intelligence now have to report demographic data. Such employers must annually submit to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity the race and ethnicity of candidates who were not selected for an interview as well as of candidates who were hired.
Disability Discrimination by “Association” Forbidden
The Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) forbids discrimination against workers with disabilities or those even perceived to have a disability. Amendments to the IHRA now make it illegal to discriminate against someone who is simply associated with a person with a disability. This change mirrors a similar provision in the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
VESSA Leave Expanded
The Illinois Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) allows workers who are victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, gender violence, or stalking to take a leave of absence to address these issues. It also protects them from discrimination and retaliation for having to avail themselves of the law.
VESSA also applies to workers who have people close to them who are being affected by the sorts of trauma covered by the law. As of January 1st, the definition of “family or household member” has expanded to include a partner in a civil union, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, and “any other individual whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship as determined by the employee.”
Workers are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid time off in any 12-month period to access counseling, to relocate, to seek legal assistance, or to take any other recourse needed to respond to a harmful situation. Read more about this law here.
Juneteenth a Holiday
Illinois has designated Juneteenth as a paid state holiday, recognizing it as National Freedom Day in Illinois. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day on which the last remaining slaves learned of the Union victory and their liberation from bondage. It represents the day freedom from slavery was functionally obtained for all Americans. The date in 1865 occurred over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been promulgated.
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How to Keep Up with It All
If modifications on the employment and business law landscape seem overwhelming, follow the advice we provide here for maintaining your awareness of legal changes. For example, consider subscribing to employment law and human resources e-newsletters. Many professional organizations publish weekly or monthly alerts delivered right to your e-mail inbox. As mentioned above, conducting an audit is a great way to take stock of legal changes and how they might impact your business. As always, if you need help, your best bet is to seek the expert counsel of an employment and business law attorney. The Prinz Law Firm is always ready to help!