Legislative Updates & Resources

Illinois Extends Stay at Home Order with Modifications

Beginning Friday, May 1, 2020, all business owners must fulfill the following requirements outlined in Governor Pritzker’s extended Stay at Home Order:

  • Requirement to Wear Face Coverings
    • All individuals over the age of two who can medically tolerate face covering will be required to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when they are:In any indoor public space
      In a public space and unable to maintain a six-foot social distance
  • The following businesses will be considered essential and may re-open beginning May 1st:
    • Animal Grooming Services
    • Greenhouses, Garden Centers, and Nurseries

Click here to view the full press release for the extended Stay at Home Order.


U.S. Department of Labor Issues Additional FFCRA Guidance

Attempting to further clarify the confusion faced by employers following passage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued its fourth set of Q&As (#60-79) to help with implementation. Check out the highlights of this additional guidance here.

In addition, Scott Cruz, Labor and Employment Attorney at Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C. created a FFCRA leave form for employers to provide to their employees. Businesses should give this form to employees who are requesting leave under the FFCRA. If businesses have less than 50 employees, they may be eligible for the small business exemption if an employee requests leave to care for the employee’s child whose school or place of care is closed due to COVID-19. Review and download the form here.

Also, check out this helpful and simple guide from the National Restaurant Association about the FFCRA regulations.


Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

On Friday, March 27, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law and it will provide emergency relief for American workers and businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. For a summary from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce of the CARES Act, click here.

When implemented, there will be many new resources available for small businesses, as well as certain non- profits and other employers. Click here for a guide that provides information about the major programs and initiatives that will soon be available from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to address these needs, as well as some additional tax provisions that are outside the scope of SBA.

Use this CARES Act Flow Chart for Small Businesses to help determine some of the financial assitance you may be eligible for.

Also, click here, for what employers should note about the CARES Act stimulus legislation.


Department of Labor Temporary Regulations for Implementing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act 

On April 1, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) released a temporary rule issuing regulations under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) effective immediately through December 31, 2020. Employers who have been wrestling with compliance with the FFCRA’s paid leave provisions will recognize much of the material in these regulations from the DOL’s informal guidance or from the CARES Act’s amendments to the FFCRA.

Check out this summary of the new DOL regulations.


Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – Not Immediately Available

The recently passed CARES Act enhances existing unemployment benefits and creates entirely new benefits for individuals previously not eligible for unemployment.  It is important to note that some of the new benefits will not be immediately available as it will take time for the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) to implement this brand new program. Specifically, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which provides 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals not eligible for regular unemployment, like independent contractors and sole-proprietors.

Individuals interested in PUA should be advised to NOT call IDES asking to sign up.  Calling or going online for PUA benefits will contribute to delays on the IDES call lines and the website.  Further, if individuals attempt to apply for PUA benefits before IDES has fully implemented the new program, they will receive a denial letter.  Once IDES is able to roll out the new PUA program, an announcement will be made and applications will be available online and via telephone.

Click here for a FAQ regarding the enhanced and new benefits created by the CARES Act


Unemployment Benefits for Workers Impacted by COVID-19

If you are forced to temporarily close your business and lay off employees due to COVID-19, your employees may qualify for unemployment benefits under emergency rules filed by Governor Pritzker last week. Read the full press release here.

The CARES Act recently increased the amount of benefits each worker is paid each week ($600 on top of what they would normally receive for up to four months until July 31st). The relief package will also allow for an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits. Finally, the CARES Act provides unemployment benefits for those that in the past were not eligible (sole proprietors, independent contractors, and “gig” workers like Uber and Lyft drivers). In Illinois:

  • If you are unemployed, furloughed, or your sources of revenues have dried up during the COVID-19 crisis, you most likely should apply for unemployment benefits through the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES).
  • Please refer to this IDES FAQ for information on COVID-19 as it relates to the IDES.
  • To file for unemployment benefits online, click here, scroll to the bottom of the page, check the certification box, and select File Your Claim.
  • IDES Online Filing Schedule:
    • Those with last names beginning with letters A-M will be asked to file their claims on Sundays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays.
    • Those with last names beginning with letters N-Z will be asked to file their claims on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays.
    • Saturdays will be available to accommodate anyone who could not file during their allotted window.

To review a Q&A guide for Illinois COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits released by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), click here. For more information on the application process and/or to file an application, employees may visit this website.


New Guidance from the Department of Labor (DOL)

Several days after issuing initial Q&A’s for emergency paid sick leave and paid FMLA, the DOL released additional Q&A’s to answer more questions employers have. To learn more and to review all the Q&A, click here.


New Guidance from the Department of Labor on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

New guidelines about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act were released on Friday, March 27. Take a moment to review the questions and answers section on this page to become more familiar with the Act.

Also, take a look at the slides from the complimentary webinar hosted by the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce presented by Scott Cruz with Greensfelder. The presentation, Managing Your Business and Employees During the Coronavirus:  Steps Employers Can take to Mitigate Risks, can be found here.

Please note, this poster about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act should be posted in your place of business and if your employees are reworking remotely, it should be e-mailed to them.


The Families First Coronavirus Response Act – Employee Rights Information 

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Click here for more details and register for this complimentary webinar to find out more information.


Small Business Advocacy Council Survey

The Small Business Advocacy Council (SBAC) is gathering insight and data to assist with the formation of policy initiatives that can help Chicago businesses weather this storm. They will be sharing the results of this survey with the City. If your business has been impacted by the Coronavirus, please complete this survey.


The City of Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection (BACP) is soliciting your feedback as they develop resources and measures to support small businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19.


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