Business News

Reminder: 2020 Employment Law Changes

Posted on December 5, 2019

Is your business ready for the upcoming employment law changes? Here’s a quick checklist of some upcoming changes that will affect your business.

Minimum Wage Law
Summary: In addition to raising the state’s minimum wage, the new Illinois Minimum Wage Law includes a statute requiring employers to keep a record of the hours worked each week by ALL employees, regardless of whether or not those employees are exempt (salaried).

Practical Implications and Other Statutes

  • Empowers Illinois Department of Labor to conduct random audits to ensure compliance with the Minimum Wage Law
  • Increases severity of penalties for failure to comply with the statutes of the Minimum Wage Law

How to Prepare

  • Employers with 50 or fewer employees may apply for tax credit equal to 25 percent of the cost of the increase in 2020.
  • If you do not currently track the hours of your exempt employees, create procedures for tracking hours and communicate the new tracking expectations to your employees.

Amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA)
Summary: Effective July 1, 2020, the IHRA will apply to all employers with 1 or more employees within Illinois (The previous threshold was 15 or more employees.). Several new amendments have been made, including but not limited to the following:

  • Expands the definition of “unlawful discrimination” against individuals within several protected classes to mean “actual or perceived” discrimination
  • Expands the definition of “work environment” such that it is no longer limited to “the physical location in which the employee is assigned”
  • “Non-employees” like contractors and consultants are now covered by the IHRA
  • Requires employers to conduct sexual harassment training for all employees once per year

Practical Implications and Other Statutes

  • Individuals no longer have to actually possess the trait for which they feel they are experiencing discrimination.
    • Example: If a supervisor perceives that an employee is in his/her 50’s and discriminates on the basis of age, the employer is liable for that discrimination even if the employee is not, in fact, in his/her 50’s.
  • Because of the expansion of the definition of “work environment,” employers are now liable for reported discrimination between employees taking place online or outside of the office.

How to Prepare

  • Provide additional training to your supervisors on the new amendments to the IHRA.
  • Update the aspects of your sexual harassment training policies that are impacted by the new IHRA amendments.
  • Schedule a yearly sexual harassment training session for all employees, not just new employees.
  • Make sure that the required IHRA poster is hanging up somewhere visible to all employees, like your break room.

Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act
Summary: Section 10-50 of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (Cannabis Act) outlines rules and protections for employers regarding the legalization of recreational cannabis in Illinois:

  • Employers may still have a zero-tolerance drug policy in their workplace and may maintain drug testing policies.
  • The Cannabis Act still prohibits employees for using, or being under the influence of, cannabis while at work or on-call. Employers may still discipline or terminate employees for violating this statute.
  • Employers may not refuse to hire, terminate, or otherwise discriminate against employees who use recreational cannabis outside of work or on-call hours.

Practical Implications

  • Because employees may use cannabis outside of working hours and THC may linger in the body for several days after use, a drug test that is positive for THC is no longer enough to support a claim that an employee is under the influence of cannabis at work.
  • Employers must be able to articulate a “good faith” argument that the employee is impaired during work or on-call hours, based upon the employee’s symptoms and actions.

How to Prepare

  • To maintain a zero-tolerance drug policy, amend your employee rule book to expressly forbid employees from possessing, using, or being under the influence of cannabis during work or on-call hours.
  • Train managers on the symptoms of cannabis impairment so that they may make good faith judgments on whether an employee is under the influence of cannabis.
  • Implement procedures for employees who wish to challenge disciplinary action for suspected cannabis use while at work or on-call.

Information provided by Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd Ward). Click here to sign up for the 2nd Ward Small Business Newsletter.

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