Monday, January 6, 2020

New Laws for 2020 Affecting Employers

It’s a new year, a new decade, and, of course, new laws on the books affecting employers. Here are five laws coming into effect this year that employers should be aware of:

Cannabis Is Legal

The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act went into effect on January 1. It is illegal for employers to discipline employees or job applicants for using cannabis outside of work. Drug testing technology cannot determine precisely when someone ingested cannabis. So don’t discipline an employee or withdraw a job to an applicant solely on the basis of a positive test. Also, update your personnel policies so that they prohibit your employees from coming to work impaired and provide your supervisors with ways to determine whether an employee is impaired.  We would be happy to help you with that.

Annual Sexual Harassment Training is Now Mandatory

The Workplace Transparency Act also came into effect on January 1. It is now mandatory for all employers, no matter their size, to provide sexual harassment training to their employees at least once a year. Failure to conduct this annual sexual harassment training could result in a $500 fine to businesses with four employees or fewer for the first offense, $1,000 for the second offense, and $3,000 for each offense after that. For businesses with more than four employees the fines double.

The training must include a summary of state and federal laws prohibiting sexual harassment along with the remedies available to sexual harassment victims. It must also explain what the employer will do to investigate and prevent sexual harassment. An explanation of sexual harassment and examples of what constitutes sexual harassment must also be included.

The law also limits the use of confidentiality provisions for sexual harassment settlements, requires employers to report the number of times their employees were found to have engaged in sexual harassment by a court or other proceeding (this goes into effect on July 1), and makes sexual harassment and discrimination against independent contractors illegal.

Increases in the Minimum Wage

On January 1 Illinois’s minimum wage increased from $8.25/hr to $9.25/hr. On July 1 it will increase to $10/hr, on January 1, 2021 it will increase to $11/hr, and then will increase $1/hr each year thereafter until it reaches $15/hr on January 1, 2025.

It Is Illegal to Ask for a Job Applicant’s Salary History

This technically went into effect at the end of 2019, but it is now illegal in Illinois to ask a job applicant for his or her salary history. Asking those applying for a job how much they made in their previous employment could lead to lawsuits requiring the employer to pay a $5,000 penalty for every violation of the law and pay the job applicant’s attorneys’ fees. The law also prohibits employers from disciplining employees for discussing their wages and benefits. Employers can still provide information about the wages and benefits that a position will offer, and can ask applicants about their salary expectations.

Employers Must Inform Job Applicants If Artificial Intelligence Will Be Used to Analyze a Video of their Interview

On January 1 the Artificial Intelligence Video Interview Act took effect. The Act requires employers who videotape interviews to notify the job applicant that AI may be used to analyze the applicant’s performance.

Contact us if you would like more information on these laws.