Tuesday, December 20, 2016

More New Legislation For 2017 - Part II

New year, new employment laws. Yesterday we identified a number of new employment laws set to take effect in 2017. Today we continue that list.

The Victims Economic Safety and Security Act (VESSA)

Effective January 1, 2017, the Act will expand its reach and cover all employers, regardless of the size of the workplace.

VESSA provides unpaid leave, similar in nature to FMLA, to employees who are victims of domestic or sexual violence or whose family members or household members are victims of domestic or sexual violence. Currently the law allows employees to take up to 8 workweeks of unpaid leave in any 12-month period if they work for an employer with 15 to 49 employees, and 12 workweeks of unpaid leave in any 12-month period if they work for an employer with 50 or more employees. Effective January 1, 2017, employees who work for an employer with no more than 14 employees will be entitled to 4 workweeks of unpaid leave in any 12-month period to address issues related to domestic or sexual violence.

The Illinois Domestic Workers Bill of Rights
The law provides domestic workers with minimum wage, at least one day off a week, meals, and protections from discrimination. It also prohibits domestic workers from being paid “an oppressive and unreasonable wage.” The law will go into effect on January 1, 2017.

The Freedom from Location Surveillance Act
P.A. 99-610, amending the "Freedom from Location Surveillance Act" to expand employee privacy rights in online activities. The following is a summary of the major provisions of this new law, which takes effect January 1, 2017.

The new law makes it unlawful for an employer or prospective employer to do the following:
1. Request, require, or coerce an employee or applicant to:
  • provide a username and password to any personal online account;
  • access a personal online account in the employer's presence;
  • invite the employer to join a group affiliated with a personal online account; or
  • join an online account established by the employer or add the employer to the employee's or applicant's list of contacts (e.g., "friends") to access the personal online account.
2. Discharge, discipline, discriminate against, retaliate against, or penalize an employee for any of the above activities or for filing a complaint alleging a violation.
3. Fail or refuse to hire an applicant for any of the above activities.

The Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act
Effective January 1, 2017 the Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act (P.A. 099-0841) will require employers to allow employees to use their sick leave benefits for not only their own personal medical needs, but also for the illness, injury or medical appointments of a broad spectrum of family members. While the Act does not itself require employers to provide paid sick leave, it does require employers who do provide that benefit to allow employees to use that leave time for absences resulting from the illness, injury or medical appointments of the employee’s child, spouse, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent or stepparent.

The Local Government Travel Expense Control Act
The Local Government Travel Expense Control Act (P.A. 99-604) applies to school districts, community college districts, and all units of local government except home rule units. Illinois defines "units of local government" to include counties, municipalities, townships, special districts (i.e., park districts, library districts, fire protection districts, etc), and various other units of local government. The new law becomes effective January 1, 2017.

The Act imposes two new obligations on units of local government: (1) to adopt by ordinance or resolution a local policy on expense reimbursements and (2) to approve by roll call vote of the corporate authorities any expenses that exceed the maximum allowable reimbursement established by the local policy. The new law also prohibits any unit of local government from reimbursing entertainment expenses.

The Child Bereavement Leave Act
On July 29, Governor Rauner signed into law the Child Bereavement Leave Act. The statute is effective immediately.

The Act requires employers who are covered by FMLA to provide up to ten days of unpaid leave for the death of a child of an employee and up to six weeks of unpaid leave for the death of a second child in a 12 week period. Eligible employees are those that would otherwise qualify for FMLA but an employee who has exhausted their available FMLA leave will not be eligible for additional child bereavement leave.

Unlike FMLA requirements, employers cannot mandate that an employee use paid time during this leave and employees must use this leave within 60 days of the notice of the child’s death.

With all these upcoming changes, it is vital that employers update their workplace handbooks, policies, and procedures to comply with the new legislation.  Contact an experienced Ancel Glink labor and employment attorney to ensure an easy transition into the New Year.