New 2020 Employment Laws in Effect

By: Jessica Jackler

We previously posted on new impactful Illinois legislation effective January 1, 2020 (see articles from our Labor & Employment Blog & Newsletter). Below is a refresher about these new laws now in effect.

Illinois Minimum Wage:
The hourly rate is now $9.25 per hour. After six months, the hourly minimum will increase to $10 per hour through the end of 2020. Thereafter, the minimum wage will go up $1 per hour on the first day of each year until it reaches $15 per hour on January 1, 2025. The Cook County minimum wage is currently $12 per hour and is set to increase on July 1. The City of Chicago minimum wage is currently $13 per hour and is also set to increase on July 1.

Recreational Marijuana Law:
Recreational use of marijuana and other products are now legal in Illinois. Employers can still prohibit use and possession while at work and may also continue to maintain drug-free policies in the workplace. Pre-employment drug testing, along with “reasonable” testing during employment remains permissible.

Workplace Transparency Act:
This law amended the Illinois Human Rights Act with the objective of strengthening employee protections against workplace discrimination and harassment. It greatly impacts the content of current employment agreements and other workplace policy considerations. Some of the key points of this law include:

  • In order to include confidentiality as part of a settlement or separation agreement, the employee must agree to such confidentiality, it must mutually benefit both parties, and the employee must be provided 21 days to consider signing the agreement and seven days to revoke the agreement.
  • A settlement or separation agreement may include a non-disparagement clause, but it must be mutual.
  • The Illinois Human Rights Act now extends its protection to independent contractors in addition to employees.
  • There is now increased protection for employees who are “perceived”to be part of a protected class even if they are not actually a part of the protected class.
  • Victims Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) now also applies to victims of sexual harassment.
  • Employers must conduct annual sexual harassment training for employees.

Practice Tip: Employers should make certain they are complying with the new minimum wage immediately to avoid wage complaints and penalties. It is also advantageous that employers review their workplace policies and training procedures to ensure they are updated to reflect these legislative changes. Employment agreements, including termination and settlement agreements, must also be modified in compliance with the new laws. Please contact us to review and revise your existing policies and contracts, or to prepare new ones in light of these changes.

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