ILLINOIS SICK LEAVE ACT
Although many small employers breathed a sigh of relief last year when the new U.S. Department of Labor changes to the classification of overtime-eligible employees were halted as a result of litigation filed in Texas, Illinois employers have other new rules they must follow beginning in 2017.
As of January 1, 2017, all Illinois employers who offer sick leave must allow their employees to use at least some of that sick leave not only for their own illness or medical needs, but also for those of their children, spouse, siblings, parents, in-laws, grandchildren, grandparents, and step-parents. Still in play is a recent bill seeking to amend the list to include step-children and domestic partners. This new law does not mandate sick leave, however, if an employer offers sick leave, the definition of sick leave must include those absences.
The Illinois Sick Leave Act does not require that employers modify their policies if they currently provide leave that may be used for family member care, but careful analysis is required to make sure the policies comply.
This new law can impact your rights and obligations under the Family Medical Leave Act, collective bargaining agreements and other paid time off policies. There are also various rules about who is covered, how and when hours accrue when hours can be used, and carry-over of hours, as well as payments upon termination.
CITY OF CHICAGO AND COOK COUNTY SICK LEAVE ORDINANCES
In addition to the Illinois Sick Leave Act which went into effect on January 1, 2017, both Cook County and the City of Chicago have gone a step further and mandated sick leave for employees.
As of July 1, 2017, Cook County and Chicago employers must offer sick leave to all employees, with “employees” defined as those who worked 80 hours or more within a 120 day period in both ordinances. Sick leave accrues at the rate of one hour for every 40 hours worked. Accrual begins on the first day of employment (or July 1, 2017, for existing employees), but under some circumstances, may not be used during probationary periods. There are annual caps, carry-over restrictions, and notice requirements as well.
The Chicago and Cook County ordinances include family medical needs (and includes domestic partners and step, and foster children), certain treatment and court appearances related to domestic violence or sex offenses as well as public health emergency business and/or school closure as covered absences.
Employees whose employers are located outside of Cook County, but who work in Cook County at least two hours in any two week period, will be covered.
There are also posting requirements for the Chicago ordinance.
As with the Illinois Sick Leave Act, these new laws can impact your rights and obligations under the Family Medical Leave Act, collective bargaining agreements and other paid time off policies. There are also various rules about who is covered, how and when hours accrue, and when hours can be used, and carry-over of hours, as well as payments upon termination.
ILLINOIS REFUSES TO ALLOW EMPLOYERS TO LIMIT COMPETITION BY “LOW WAGE” EMPLOYEES
After a national sandwich shop was found to have employment agreements with its workers which prevented them from working at a competing food service establishment within a three-mile radius of the shop for two years, the Illinois legislature acted quickly to protect these workers.
Effective January 1, 2017, the Illinois Freedom to Work Act prohibits employers from entering into “a covenant not to compete with any low-wage employee,” defined as one paid the greater of $13 per hour or the minimum wage required by federal, state or local statute.
A “covenant not to compete” is defined as an agreement: (1) that would bar the low-wage employee from performing: (A) any work for another employer for a specified period of time; (B) any work in a specified geographical area; or (C) work for another employer that is similar to such low-wage employee’s work for the employer included as a party to the agreement; and (2) that is entered into after January 1, 2017.
Contact Ron Menna for more information or to review your current employment agreements.