By Daniel Finerty

There are several changes to Illinois that that, regardless of when the laws were passed, go into effect or have recently gone into effect in 2023, and place additional obligations on Illinois employers.

Additional Paid Leave Obligations

 In addition to the Illinois Paid Leave for All Workers Act that goes into effect on January 1, 2024,  Illinois employers are now obligated to provide unpaid leave for absences resulting from a pregnancy loss, unsuccessful IVF treatment, a failed adoption or surrogacy, or a diagnosis that impacts pregnancy. In this way, this unpaid leave obligation may, after January 1, 2024, act as an additional or alternative leave obligation once paid leave has been exhausted.

In addition, Section 21 of the Employee Sick Leave Act was recently amended to provide that  “[t]he rights afforded under this Act serve as the minimum standard in a negotiated collective bargaining agreement.” That provision went into effect on January 1, 2023.

Mandatory Time-Off and Breaks

 Effective January 1, 2023, Illinois’s One Day Rest In Seven Act (ODRISA) requires employers to provide employees with at least 24 hours of rest in every consecutive 7-day period. Should an exception be sought or necessary for business reasons, ODRISA allows an employer to secure permits from the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) for employees to work on the 7th day provided the employee seeking work on that day has voluntarily agreed to work and, in cases where the employee will be working over 40 hours, is paid at the applicable overtime rate. According to the IDOL FAQ, any such exemption should be sought in advance and, if IDOL grants an exemption, the employer’s statement must demonstrate that all employees have volunteered to work the seventh days in a row. The IDOL application for a permit can be submitted online.

Employees are also entitled to a mandatory meal period of at least 20 minutes for every 7.5-hour shift. The 20-minute break must begin no later than 5 hours after the start of the shift. An additional 20-minute meal period must also be provided if the employee works a shift that is 12 hours or longer. Reasonable restroom breaks, in addition to the meal break must be provided.

For union employers, the day off and meal break obligations do not apply if days off and meal periods are governed by their collective bargaining agreement. However, if a collective bargaining agreement does not specify days off and meal periods, the ODRISA provisions may apply.

Effective January 1, 2023, employers that currently file EEO-1 reports are required to submit similar reports to the state of Illinois, and includes new pay data reporting and certification requirements, among other obligations.

Equal Pay Certification Requirement

 The Equal Pay Act of 2003, 820 ILCS 112 et seq., was recently amended to require that all private employers with 100 or more employees in Illinois submit demographic and wage data to IDOL, along with a filed Annual Employer Information Report EEO-1 and an Equal Pay Compliance Statement certifying that, among other things, the average compensation for its female and minority employees is not consistently below the average compensation for its male and non-minority employees. These legislative changes are intended to promote pay transparency and ensure that all Illinoisans, regardless of their background, receive equal pay for substantially similar work they do on behalf of an employer.

The filing deadlines required for 2023 were suspended; however, for most businesses, IDOL will provide A 120-day advanced notice of an Initial certification deadline, according to the IDOL FAQ page. Generally, businesses with 99 or fewer employees and businesses that are not required to file an Annual Employer Information Report EEO-1 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are exempt from this obligation.

Illinois businesses should note that this reporting is in addition to that which has been in place since July 1, 2020, has continued and is continuing each July 1 thereafter, which requires an employer to disclose annually to the Illinois Department of Human Rights “an adverse judgment or administrative ruling against it in the preceding calendar year […] the following information: the total number of adverse judgments or administrative rulings during the preceding year; whether any equitable relief was ordered; and the number of adverse judgments or administrative rulings entered against the employer within specific categories outlined in Section 2-108(B) of the Illinois Human Rights Act.” Resources for this reporting can be found on the Illinois Department of Human Rights website.

Minimum Wage Increase

 On January 1, 2023, due to amendments to 820 ILCS 105/4(a)(1), the Illinois Minimum Wage increased from $12.00 per hour to $13.00 per hour. This rate will increase each year with another change on January 1, 2024 to $14.00 per hour and a final increase slated to occur on January 1, 2025 when the minimum hourly rate increases to $15.00 per hour. There are additional changes to employer obligations regarding tipped employees, paying a training wage to tipped employees, and for youth workers. A description of those changes can be found on the IDOL FAQ page and another IDOL resource that provides the minimum wage chart by year.

Hairstyle Discrimination

 The amended Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) prohibits employers from engaging in discrimination based on an expanded definition of “race” to include traits associated with race, including but not limited to hair texture and protective hairstyles such as braids, locks, and twists.