New Illinois laws that impact employers in the New Year

January 5, 2017

Related PeopleDaniel J. Fumagalli

Practice AreasEmployment

Despite the legislative gridlock which has become a way of life in Illinois over the past two years, the Illinois legislature and Gov. Bruce Rauner reached common ground on a couple of statutory enactments that relate to Illinois workers and employers.

On Aug. 19, 2016, Gov. Rauner signed into law the Illinois Freedom to Work Act (Act) which bars Illinois employers from entering into non-compete agreements with low-wage employees. The new Act was passed following public concerns over certain fast-food companies that included non-compete terms in their employment agreements with their hourly workers. The issues regarding non-competition terms came to a head when the Illinois Attorney General sued one of the fast-food companies, arguing that the agreements which included such terms were simply not enforceable.

The Act, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2017, prohibits employers from imposing any covenant not to compete for any “low-wage employees,” who are defined as any employees who earn the greater of the applicable local, state or federal minimum hourly wage, or $13 per hour. Because the current local, state and federal minimum wages are all below the $13, the Act prohibits non-competes for employees earning $13 per hour or less.

Any employment agreement which includes a non-compete in an agreement for low-wage employees is illegal and void. To read more, click here.

On Aug. 19, 2016, Gov. Rauner also signed into law the Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act (Sick Leave Act), which is also effective as of Jan. 1, 2017. This Act requires Illinois employers who provide personal sick leave benefits to their employees to allow employees to take sick leave for absences due to an illness, injury or medical appointment of the employee’s child, spouse, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent or stepparent, on the same terms upon which the employee is able to use sick leave for his or her own illness or injury. It is unlawful for employers to discharge, threaten to discharge, demote, suspend or discriminate against employees for using their sick leave benefits or opposing any policy that is contrary to the new Act. 

The Sick Leave Act does not require an employer to adopt a sick leave policy if it does not already have one. However, the City of Chicago recently passed an ordinance, to take effect on July 1, 2017, that requires employers in Chicago to provide eligible employees up to 40 hours of paid sick leave in each 12-month period. To read more, click here.

If you have questions about these new Acts, or any other employment issues, the employment attorneys at Chuhak & Tecson, P.C. are here to help.

This Chuhak & Tecson, P.C. communication is intended only to provide information regarding developments in the law and information of general interest. It is not intended to constitute advice regarding legal problems and should not be relied upon as such.

Client alert authored by: Daniel J. Fumagalli, Principal, and Michael D. Leifman, Staff Attorney