New laws affecting Illinois employers take effect January 1

by Steven L. Brenneman

Illinois employers need to be aware of a few new laws taking effect January 1.

Ban the box

One of the new laws, the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act, prohibits most private-sector employers and employment agencies with 15 or more employees from asking applicants about their criminal histories and conducting criminal background checks until after they are deemed qualified for a job.

Under the law, employers may not inquire about, consider, or require disclosure of an applicant’s criminal record or criminal history until he has been deemed qualified for a position and has been notified that he has been selected for an interview. If there is no interview, the employer may not inquire into the applicant’s criminal record or criminal history until after making a conditional offer of employment.

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Chicago City Council raises minimum wage

by Steven L. Brenneman

With a mayoral election looming and opponents challenging him from the left, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushed through a Chicago ordinance that will gradually increase the minimum wage to $13 per hour by 2019. Currently, the state minimum wage is $8.25 per hour. The new Chicago ordinance, passed December 2, establishes a $10-per-hour minimum wage on July 1, 2015. Increases of 50 cents per hour would be imposed in 2016 and 2017. After that, $1-per-hour increases would take effect in 2018 and 2019, with inflation-based increases thereafter.

The ordinance also raises the minimum wage for tipped employees by $1 over two years from the current state minimum of $4.95 to $5.45 as of July 1, 2015, and $5.95 as of July 1, 2016, to be indexed to inflation thereafter.

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Election means at least four more states will see higher minimum wages in 2015

November 05, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

Voters in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota said yes to increasing their states’ minimum wages as they cast their ballots November 4. Illinois voters said the same thing in a nonbinding vote.

Here’s a look at the new state minimum wages, according to Ballotpedia: read more…

Voters in four states to decide on minimum wage hikes

October 27, 2014 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

Voters in four states—Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota—will decide on minimum wage increases when they go to the polls on November 4, and Illinois voters will make their opinion on the issue known in a nonbinding vote. Information on state ballot measures from Ballotpedia indicates:

  • Voters will decide whether to increase Alaska’s minimum wage from $7.75 to $8.75 on January 1, 2015, and to $9.75 on January 1, 2016.
  • The Arkansas question asks voters whether they want to raise the state’s minimum wage from $6.25 to $7.50 on January 1, 2015; to $8 on January 1, 2016; and to $8.50 on January 1, 2017.
  • In Nebraska, voters will decide whether to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8 on January 1, 2015, and to $9 on January 1, 2016.
  • Voters will decide whether to raise South Dakota’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 on January 1, 2015.

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Illinois governor signs law prohibiting criminal history inquiries on job applications

by Steven L. Brenneman

Fox, Swibel, Levin & Carroll, LLP

On July 21, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into law the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act, which will prohibit most private-sector employers and employment agencies with 15 or more employees from asking applicants about their criminal histories and conducting criminal background checks until after applicants are deemed qualified for a job. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2015.

Under the law, employers may not inquire about, consider, or require disclosure of an applicant’s criminal record or criminal history until he has been deemed qualified for a position and has been notified that he has been selected for an interview. If there is no interview, the employer may not inquire into the applicant’s criminal record or criminal history until after making a conditional offer of employment.

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NLRB invites briefs in Northwestern football case

May 12, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is inviting interested parties to submit briefs on the Northwestern University football case. Briefs must be submitted on or before June 26, 2014.

At the request of the university, the NLRB agreed on April 24 to review the decision of a regional director finding that the university’s scholarship football players are employees under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and therefore are eligible to unionize.

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Illinois employers need to prepare for same-sex marriage law

Illinois’ same-sex marriage law, which was passed last fall, is set to take effect June 1. The new law will affect Illinois employers in various ways.

Employers will need to treat same-sex spouses the same way they treat opposite-sex spouses. This will have ramifications for employer-sponsored health plans with spousal coverage and retirement plans.

Also, employee leave policies will be affected. For example, the guarantees provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act for the serious health condition of a spouse will be available to same-sex spouses. Similarly, other leave or benefit policies relating to spouses and families (e.g., bereavement leave) will need to be administered consistently for opposite-sex and same-sex married employees.

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NLRB to review Northwestern University football ruling

April 24, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

On April 24, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that it will review a regional director’s decision that Northwestern University’s scholarship football players are employees who are eligible to unionize.

The Board’s announcement came one day before a secret-ballot election, which will go on as scheduled. The NLRB said the ballots will be impounded until it affirms, modifies, or reverses the decision.

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NLRB regional director orders union election for Northwestern football players

March 27, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

A regional director of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled that football players at Northwestern University are entitled to a union election because they’re essentially employees of the private university located in Evanston, Illinois.

Peter Sung Ohr, Region 13 director of the NLRB, issued an order on March 26 that a union representation election be conducted. He said Northwestern’s scholarship football players are entitled to vote on union representation because they’re “employees” under Section 2(3) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

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Illinois same-sex marriage law will spawn employment issues

by Steven L. Brenneman

On November 5, both houses of the Illinois General Assembly passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriages. Governor Pat Quinn is expected to sign the bill into law. If he does, it will take effect in June 2014.

The new law will affect Illinois employers in several ways. Regarding employee benefits, employers will need to treat same-sex spouses the same way they treat opposite-sex spouses. The law will have ramifications on retirement plans and employer-sponsored health plans with spousal coverage.

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