The start of 2023 comes with the start of new laws and regulations that will certainly affect your business. Another year means another round of changes to labor and employment laws in Illinois of which all employers must be aware. These new laws include a range of topics that include bereavement leave, rest and meal break periods, minimum sick leave for collective bargaining agreements, and protection against hair-based discrimination are covered by these laws which went into effect on January 1, 2023.
The Family Bereavement Law Act
The Illinois Family Bereavement Law Act (“FBLA”), 820 ILCS 154/1, et. seq., applies to all employers. Under the FBLA, employers are required to provide eligible employees (employees who have worked 1,250 hours for their employer during the preceding 12-month period of a request for unpaid bereavement leave) with a maximum of 10 workdays of unpaid leave time in the event of the following:
- the death of a “covered family member”;
- a stillbirth;
- a miscarriage;
- an unsuccessful reproductive procedure;
- a failed adoption match or an adoption that is not finalized because it is contested;
- a failed surrogacy agreement; or
- a diagnosis that negatively impacts pregnancy or fertility.
A “covered family member” includes a child, stepchild, spouse, domestic partner, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent child. Under the FBLA, eligible employees may use FBLA leave time to: grieve; attend the funeral or alternatively to a funeral of a covered family member; or make arrangements necessitated by the death of the covered family member.
To request bereavement leave under the FBLA, employees must provide employers with at least 48 hours’ advance notice of intention to take bereavement leave, and any leave taken under the FBLA must be completed within 60 days after the date on which the employee receives notice of the qualifying event. Employers may request reasonable documentation, such as includes death certificates, published obituaries, healthcare practitioner documentation, or documentation from an adoption or surrogacy organization, to certify that the employee requesting bereavement leave did, in fact, experience an event covered by FBLA. The Illinois Department of Labor provides a FBLA certification form on its website (https://labor.illinois.gov/content/dam/soi/en/web/idol/laws-rules/conmed/documents/family-bereavement-leave-act-form.pdf) Employers should review their bereavement leave policy to it is in compliance with the FBLA.
One Day Rest in Seven Act
The Illinois One Day Rest in Seven Act (“ODRISA”), 820 ILCS 140/0.01, et. seq., has been amended to provide workers with 24 consecutive hours of rest in every consecutive seven-day period. Prior to this amendment, the ODRISA required employers to provide employees at least 24 consecutive hours of rest in a calendar week. The new amendment changes the time period for which the need for a rest day is calculated. There are several exceptions to the rest requirement. The rest period does not apply to: part-time workers (20 hours or less in a week); workers who are needed in the event of a breakdown of machinery or equipment (or other type of emergency requiring immediate services of experienced labor); security guards or watchmen; exempt employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act; and supervisors under the National Labor Relations Act. Employers are required to conspicuously post , and provide via email or website for traveling and remote employees, a notice prepared by Illinois Department of Labor outlining employee rights under ODRISA. A copy of the required posting can be found on the Illinois Department of Labor’s website (https://labor.illinois.gov/employers/posters.html).
The amendment to the ODRISA also provides for increased penalties for violations. Prior to the amendments, employers who violated ODRISA were fined as a petty offense between $25.00 and $100.00 for each violation. Now, employers with less than 25 employees not only may be fined as a civil offense up to $250.00, but they may also owe damages, up to $250.00, to the employee(s) affected. For employers with more than 25 employees, they may be fined as a civil offense up to $500.00 and may owe damages, up to $500.00, to the employee(s) affected. To ensure they are in compliance with the new requirements of the ODRISA, employers should review, and take any other steps as appropriate, to ensure that work schedules for non-union, non-exempt, full-time employees and policies on hours worked are in compliance with the amended ODRISA and have posted or provided the requirement notice to their employees.
Employee Sick Leave Act
While the Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act (“ESLA”), 820 ILCS 191/1, et.seq., does not require employers to provide sick leave to employees, for Illinois employers that do provide sick leave to their employees, the ESLA requires that employees must be able to use at least a half of such time due to an illness, injury, medical appointment or the personal care of the employee’s covered family member on the same terms upon which the employee is able to use personal sick leave benefits for the employee’s own illness or injury. Under the new amendments, the ESLA serves “as the minimum standard in a negotiated collective bargaining agreement.” Employers should review their sick leave policies to ensure they are in compliance with the new amendments to the ESLA.
The CROWN Act
The Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act (“CROWN”) Act, which amends the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”), to expand the definition of race under the IHRA to include “traits associated with race”, such as “hair texture and protective hairstyles such as braids, locks and twists.” Under the CROWN Act, employers cannot discriminate against employees based on hairstyles that may be associated with their race. Employers should review their equal employment opportunity, personal appearance and grooming policies to ensure they are not directly or indirectly in violation of the requirements of the CROWN Act. Additionally, employers should ensure their employees, especially any employees that hire hiring and firing authority, on the requirements of the CROWN Act.
In summary, labor laws are typically reviewed, amended and sometimes created to take affect every January. The year 2023 was no exception. In order to avoid being sued, fined or otherwise grieved by their employees, business owners and their human resource managers should take the time to review the legislation referenced herein as well as all new laws enacted and contact their legal counsel with any questions or concerns.