New Illinois Employment Laws Take Effect

Although Illinois enacts laws throughout the year, most statutes go into effect on January 1 of the coming year. There are almost 200 new laws passed in 2016 that have gone into effect this week. To bring us into the new year, below are the most important laws that went into effect this week that will impact Illinois employees:


Employee Sick Leave Act (PA 99-0841)

This Act, which I have previously discussed here, is likely the most important piece of legislation passed in 2016 that will benefit the greatest amount of Illinois employees. The law applies to every Illinois employer that provides sick leave to employees. If the company chooses to provide sick leave to employees to care for themselves, then it must also allow the employee to take sick leave to care for the employee’s sick or injured family members. The Act also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for using sick leave under the act.

Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights (PA 99-0758)

As I previously blogged about, this law provides workplace protections to “domestic workers,” which include housekeepers, nannies, and caregivers, among other individuals. The law provides domestic workers with many workplace protections to which most other professions are already entitled. This includes minimum wage and overtime, rest breaks, and protections against illegal discrimination.

Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act (PA 99-0610)

The legislature significantly amended the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act. The Act clarifies that that employers are prohibited from requesting or requiring employees or applicants to authenticate or access a personal online account (such as a facebook or twitter account) in the presence of the employer.

Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (PA 99-0765)

The Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA), requires companies to provide employees leave if he or she has been a victim of domestic or sexual violence, or has a family member who is a victim. The previous version of the law only provided leave to employees who worked for companies which employed at least 15 or more employees. However, in 2016, the law was amended to allow leave for individuals regardless of the amount of employees.

The length of the leave period is dependent on the amount of the company’s employees. If the company employs more than 50 employees, the individual is entitled to 12 workweeks of leave during any 12-month period. If the company employs between 15 and 50 employees, the individual is entitled to 8 workweeks. If the company employs between 1 and 14 employees, the individual is entitled to 4 workweeks of unpaid leave.

Illinois Freedom to Work Act (PA 99-0860)

I have extensively blogged about Jimmy John’s inappropriate and unnecessary non-competes with low-wage employees. After several lawsuits against the companies, bad press, and settlements, Jimmy John’s is no longer able to use the impermissible non-competes on low-level employees. In addition, Illinois passed the Illinois Freedom to Work Act, which prohibits such non-compete agreements with individuals earning $13 or less.

These are the most important new Illinois employment laws affecting workers. I will continue to monitor and update you on important case law and legislative updates that affect Illinois workers, including the new and hotly disputed federal overtime rule. If you think any Illinois workplace laws have been violated, contact an attorney immediately.