Cheers to More Employee Protections

Ok, we realize that not everyone gets as excited about employment law as we do.  Nevertheless, there are eight new employments laws on the books that we think you should know about and which we think warrant some celebration.

  1. Common sense for sick time.  Falling under the category of employment laws that never should have had to become laws, Illinois HB 6162, which went into effect on January 1, 2017, requires employers to allow employees to use personal sick leave benefits to care for their child, spouse, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent.
  2. Salary transparency for CEOs.  Starting on January 1, public companies must disclose, to the SEC and shareholders, the ratio of CEO compensation to the “median compensation” of the corporation’s employees (except the CEO). This should cause some outrage amongst the rank and file.
  3. Mandatory paid sick time–at least for some.  Federal employees already have this benefit but the new law requires companies who provide contractors to the federal government to provide those contractors at least one sick leave hour for every 30 hours worked. Accrual can be capped at 56 hours.
  4. Illinois victims of domestic violence have more protection:  Effective January 1, Illinois expanded its Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act to all employers regardless of size. Prior to this, VESSA only applied to Illinois companies with more than 15 employees.  The law now says that employers with between 1-14 employees must give at least 4 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave to employees who need the time off to deal with domestic violence issues.
  5. Elimination of ridiculous non-competes.  Effective January 1, Illinois now prohibits companies from forcing low-wage earners into non-compete agreements.  I was on a bit of a soapbox last year about this and we wrote about this issue here and here.  I am really happy that Illinois is one of the few states to pass this type of legislation.   As far as employment laws go, this is a really good one.
  6. Greater employee privacy. We recently wrote about this but it is worth repeating: As of January 1, 2017, the Illinois Right to Privacy Act was amended to make it unlawful for employers to require or coerce employees to invite the employer to join groups on Facebook or other social media that an employee belongs to personally.  It will also become unlawful for employers to require or coerce employees to like employers’ Facebook or other social media posts or to add employers to contact lists for their personal social media accounts.  The Act also makes it illegal for employers to retaliate against employees for refusing to engage in these activities.
  7. More money for Chicago workers.–On July 1, 2017 the minimum wage for Chicago workers increases to 11.00 per hour.   Baby steps, but still good news for lower-wage earners.