Monday, December 19, 2016

What’s New for 2017 - Part I

As the New Year quickly approaches, employers should be aware of new employment laws that have recently become effective, or soon will be.  Here is part one of a brief overview of new legislation that may affect employers:

The Personal Information Protection Act
New amendments to the Personal Information Protection Act will become effective January 1, 2017.  An entity that collects an Illinois resident’s personal information is required to implement reasonable security measures that protect that information.  An entity that has contract regarding the disclosure of personal information must include a provision that requires the implementation of such security measures.  The entity must provide the individual with notice in the event of a breach.  The amended Act also provides certain reporting requirements for entities subject to the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.
The Act now covers medical information, health insurance information, unique biometric data, as well as an individual’s user name or email address, in combination with a password or security question and answer that would permit access to an online account.

The Illinois Freedom to Work Act
Effective January 1, 2017, employers will be prohibited from entering a covenant not to compete with any of its low wage employees.  This Act does not apply to governmental or quasi-governmental bodies and considers a low wage employee as an individual who earns the greater of (1) the hourly rate equal to the minimum wage required by the applicable federal, State, or local minimum wage law or (2) $13.00 per hour.

The Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance
As of July 1, 2017, employees in Cook County are entitled to accrue up to 40 hours of sick leave each year and carry over up to half of that time into the next year.

Employers that are covered by the ordinance include individuals and companies with a place of business within the County that gainfully employ at least one covered employee. Government entities and Indian tribes are not covered employers under the ordinance.

Workers are entitled to benefits under the Ordinance if they:
  1. perform at least two hours of work for a covered employer while physically present within the geographic boundaries of the County in any particular two-week period; and
  2. work at least 80 hours for a covered employer in any 120-day period.

The Illinois Wage Assignment Act
A wage assignment is a debt collection process used that allows non-traditional lenders access to a borrower’s wages after the borrower defaults on a loan.  Amendments to this Act make borrower’s federal rights more apparent and outline the wage assignment’s notice requirements
The Act states that a [d]emand on an employer for the wages of wage-earner by virtue of a wage assignment may not be served on the employer unless:
  1. There has been a default of more than 40 days in payment of the indebtedness secured by the assignment and the default has continued to the date of the demand;
  2. The demand contains a correct statement as to the amount the wage-earner is in default and the original or a photostatic copy of the assignment is exhibited to the employer; and
  3. Not less than 20 days before serving the demand, a notice of intention to make the demand has been served upon the employee, and an advice copy sent to the employer, by registered or certified mail.
NOTE: Local government employers are exempt from the requirements of this Act.

The Illinois Environmental Barriers Act
New amendments to the Illinois Environmental Barriers Act will require a higher accessibly standards, mirroring the ADA.  Effective January 1, 2017, the Capital Development Board will adopt and publish these standards.  The Act provides that accessibility standards for public facilities shall dictate minimum design, construction and alteration requirements to facilitate access to and use of the public facility by environmentally limited persons.
The standards promulgated in this Act will constitute minimum requirements for all governmental units, including home rule units.  The act also imposes civil penalties for noncompliance.

The Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act
Amendments to the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act will make it illegal for an employer or prospective employer to:
  • ask or require an employee or job candidate to access a personal online account in the presence of the employer;
  • require an employee or job candidate to invite the employer to join a group affiliated with a personal account of the employee or candidate;
  • require an employee or job candidate to join an online account established by the employer,
  • discharge, discipline, discriminate against, retaliate against, or otherwise penalize an employee, or refuse to hire a job candidate, who refuses or declines to provide the employer with the prohibited information or access.

The changes take effect on January 1, 2017.

Tune in tomorrow for part two of our list of new employment legislation.