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Time to Make a Change . . .  to Your Policies in Illinois Time to Make a Change . . .  to Your Policies in Illinois

Time to Make a Change . . . to Your Policies in Illinois

The phrase "the only thing certain is change" holds true this year (as it has in past years) for employers in Illinois. In 2022, Governor Pritzker signed two amendments into law: one that will only impact companies with 50 or more employees (or public agencies), and one that will impact all employers with employees in Illinois.  Since Illinois employers will soon need to make changes to their policies to comply with these amendments, they should become familiar with these changes and how they will impact the workplace. 
 

Illinois Family Bereavement Leave Act


The first change is an amendment and expansion of the Illinois’ Child Bereavement Leave Act, which currently provides employees of covered employers with up to two weeks of unpaid leave for the death of a biological or adopted child, foster placement, or stepchild. On June 9, 2022, Governor Pritzker signed the Illinois Family Bereavement Leave Act (“Act”) into law. The Act goes into effect January1, 2023, and applies to companies that are covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act—i.e., companies with 50 or more employees or public agencies. 

Under the Act, the reasons for taking leave will be expanded to cover the death of other family members (including spouses, domestic partners, siblings, parents, mothers-in-law, fathers-in-law, grandchildren, grandparents, or stepparents) and other losses, such as pregnancy losses, failed adoptions, unsuccessful reproductive procedures, and other diagnoses or events that affect pregnancy and fertility. Employers should consider their current leave policies before January 1, 2023, and make any necessary changes to comply with the amended and expanded law.  
 

Amendments to the One Day Rest in Seven Act


The second change impacts more employers than the first. On May 13, 2022, Governor Pritzker signed amendments to the One Day Rest in Seven Act (ODRISA) into law. Like the Act, the ODRISA amendments will go into effect on January 1, 2023. Generally speaking, ODRISA provides meal breaks to all employees and allows most employees a 24-hour rest period every calendar week. 

As of January 1, 2023, companies with employees in Illinois will be required to provide at least 24 consecutive hours of rest in every consecutive seven-day period. As noted above, the day of rest required by the current iteration of ODRISA is every calendar week, which the amendment changes. Exceptions can be granted by the Director of Labor for limited circumstances when the employer certifies that the number of weeks in which the employee will work seven or more consecutive days in a row is less than eight weeks in a year or when the Director finds that the necessity of employee hours on their designated rest day cannot be remedied by increasing the number of employees working or adjusting production schedules. The Director will consider these exceptions based on business necessity and economic viability.  

Additionally, as it stands now, ODRISA requires a 20-minute meal break for any employee who works seven-and-a-half hours continuously (subject to specific, very limited exceptions for certain types of employees). The employer must provide the meal break within the first five hours of work. The ODRISA amendment will require that an employee who works in excess of seven-and-a-half hours be provided with an additional 20-minute meal break for every additional four-and-a-half hours of continuous work. In other words, if an employer works 12 hour shifts or otherwise works for 12 hours, employers must provide the employee another 20-minute meal break. There is no indication in the amendment about when this second break must occur. That guidance may still be provided by the Illinois Department of Labor.

Employers will be required to post and keep posted in one or more conspicuous places (where notices are customarily posted) an updated notice provided by the Illinois Department of Labor that summarizes the requirements of ODRISA. For employees who do not regularly travel to a physical workspace, such as remote employees or those who travel regularly for work, employers must provide the notice in another manner—for example, via email or on the employer’s internal intranet.

Employers that do not comply with ODRISA will be subject to penalties. An employer that violates ODRISA shall be guilty of a civil offense and subject to penalties including: 1) for an employer with fewer than 25 employees, a penalty not to exceed $250 per offense, payable to the Department of Labor, and damages of up to $250 per offense, payable to the employee or employees affected; and 2) for an employer with more than 25 employees, a penalty not to exceed $500 per offense, again payable to the Department of Labor, and damages of up to $500 per offense, payable to the employee or employees affected. An offense is defined as 1) each week that an employee is found to not have been allowed 24 hours of rest; 2) each day that an employee is found not have been provided a meal period; and 3) failure to comply with the notice and posting requirement (subject to a $250 penalty only).
 

Takeaways


New laws and amendments to existing laws are frequently occurring occasions that employers—especially employers in certain states—have come to expect. Failing to implement the necessary alterations to workplace policies and handbooks can leave you exposed to claims and/or penalties. Ice Miller’s Workplace Solutions team is happy to help your organization understand and implement the necessary changes to ensure that you remain compliant with Illinois and other states' laws.

This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader's specific circumstances.
 
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