With the start of a new year, Illinois employers face some new state laws.
Increase in State Minimum Wage
Illinois has increased its minimum wage from $13.00 to $14.00 per hour statewide, including Cook County (except Chicago). The minimum wage for employees in Chicago is higher.
- For large Chicago businesses employing 21 or more workers, the minimum wage for employees is $15.80 per hour
- For smaller Chicago businesses employing between 4-20 workers, the minimum wage for employees is $15.00 per hour
Employers with less than 4 employees are required to comply with the State minimum wage, except for employers of domestic workers who are to be paid at $15.80 per hour.
Statutory Paid Leave for Any Reason
Throughout the state, most employers must provide up to 5 days of paid leave in a 12-month period to all employees which can be used for any reason. If an employer’s paid leave policy already met these requirements on January 1, 2024, no change was necessary. Many employers, however, had provided paid leave only for their full-time employees. Should an employer change its paid leave policies now, it must give 5 days’ prior written notice to its employees.
In November, Chicago passed the Chicago Paid Leave and Paid Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance. It will replace Chicago’s prior sick leave ordinance and provide for even more paid leave, 80 hours in a 12-month period. The City, however, delayed its implementation of this new ordinance until July 1, 2024.
Cook County also changed its paid sick leave policy to track the State’s paid leave policy. Instead of providing 40 hours of paid sick leave, Cook County now requires 40 hours of paid leave that can be used for any purpose. The county mandate takes effect on January 1, 2024, but enforcement will not begin until February 1, 2024.
Crime Victim Bereavement Leave
The Illinois Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave if they or a family member is a victim of domestic violence, sexual violence, gender violence or any other crime of violence. The amount of leave depends upon the size of the employer.
- For employers with less than 15 employees, the employer is required to provide up to 4 weeks of unpaid leave
- For employers with between 15-49 employees, the employer is required to provide up to 8 weeks of unpaid leave
- For larger employers with 50 or more employees, the employer is required to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave
At the end of July 2023, Governor Pritzker signed a bill that amended VESSA to permit employees to take up to 2 weeks (10 workdays) of unpaid leave related to the death of a family member or household member who is killed in a crime of violence to (1) attend the funeral or wake, (2) make arrangements necessitated by the death or (3) simply to grieve the death of the lost family member or household member. This leave must be taken within 60 days after the date on which the employee receives notice of the death of the victim. The leave may be taken within 1 year after the employee notifies the employer of the loss. An employee may not take Family Bereavement Leave for the death of the same child.
Child Extended Bereavement Act
Illinois already provides eligible employees with up to 10 days of unpaid leave for the death of a family member. If more than one qualifying event occurs within a year, the employee may take up to 6 weeks of unpaid bereavement leave in the 12-month period. This leave is to be taken within 60 days of the employee’s notice of the death.
Bereavement leave also may be taken for a miscarriage, a stillbirth, a failed surrogacy agreement, an adoption that is not finalized because it is contested, a failed adoption match, an unsuccessful round of assisted reproductive technology procedure or a diagnosis that negatively impacts pregnancy or fertility.
As of January 1, 2024, Illinois expanded the unpaid leave employers must provide should an employee’s child die by suicide or an action of violence.
- For larger employers with 250 or more full-time employees, the employer must provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave
- For smaller employers with between 50-250 employees, the employer must provide up to 6 weeks of unpaid leave
This leave must be taken within 1 year of the employee learning of the death and is available within 2 weeks of the start of employment. Under the Family Bereavement Leave Act, employees are eligible after 12 months and after working 1250 hours in the prior 12-month period.
Transit Pass Benefits
Employers with at least 50 employees working at least 35 hours per week in Cook County must allow their employees to purchase transit passes through payroll deductions.
Gender Violence Act
Under an amendment to the Gender Violence Act, employees may be able to sue their employer if they experience gender-related violence from a co-worker or agent of the employer.
Blood and Organ Donation Leave
Effective January 1, 2024, employees of employers with 50 or more employees who donate organs or tissues are entitled to 10 days off paid leave in any 12- month period. Employees still have the right to receive one hour of paid leave every 56 days to donate blood.
Other employment laws will take effect later in the year.
Day and Temporary Labor Services Act
Illinois passed a law this summer that required staffing companies to pay equal pay and benefits to temporary workers assigned for 90 or more days to a client company. On November 17, 2023, Governor Pritzker signed legislation delaying the start date for the calculation of the 90 calendar days under the equal pay and benefits section of the Illinois Day and Temporary Labor Services Act. Staffing agencies will not have to pay equal pay and benefits to temporary employees until they have actually worked for third-party clients more than 90 workdays after April 1, 2024.
Freelance Worker Protection Act
Effective July 1, 2024, the Freelance Worker Protection Act will require employers to pay freelance workers all compensation due under a contract within 30 days of completing the contracted services.