Business laws up-to-date
This summer saw some business-critical legislation become laws. Updates are provided here on two new laws:
Illinois Equal Pay Act
On July 31, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a law that prohibits Illinois employers from asking for or considering compensation history when making employment decisions or setting compensation. The law is aimed at reducing the wage gap between men and women performing similar jobs. The new law, which takes effect on Sept. 29, also ensures that employees can discuss their salary, benefits, or other compensation with colleagues.
Employers may provide salary information offered in relation to a position and engage in discussions with an applicant about his or her salary expectations. Additionally, a job applicant may voluntarily and without prompting disclose salary history. However, the new law prohibits:
• Screening applicants based on salary histories, including benefits or other compensation;
• Requiring salary history to satisfy minimum or maximum criteria;
• Requesting or requiring salary history as a condition of employment or consideration for a job;
• Seeking salary history, including benefits or other compensation, from current or former employers; and
• Retaliating for failure to comply with any wage or salary history inquiry.
Key Takeaway: Illinois employers should modify job applications to remove all questions regarding prior pay and benefits. While you may not ask about salary history, this law does not preclude asking a question such as: "What are your salary requirements as you take the next step in your career?"
Workplace Transparency Act
On August 9, Gov. Pritzker signed the Workplace Transparency Act (WTA) to strengthen protections for employees and responsibilities for Illinois employers, with an additional focus on restaurants and bars. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, the WTA requires Illinois employers to annually train their employees on the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace. It requires the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) to create a free online harassment training program for employers, and free supplemental training to be available specifically for the restaurant and bar industry and tipped employees. In addition, restaurants and bars will be required to provide a written sexual harassment policy to new employees within the first week of employment.
Key Takeaway: It is expected that Illinois will release a list of FAQs over the next several months leading up to the eventual release of the model training program. At a minimum, the training must provide an explanation of what constitutes harassment under Illinois state law, provide examples of harassment, summarize state and federal laws (and remedies for) sexual harassment, and summarize the responsibilities of employers in recognizing, investigating, preventing, and taking corrective measures to prevent harassment. Employers may use the IDHR sexual harassment prevention training (once created) or establish similar training for employees, such as MRA's harassment prevention training.
MRA continues to closely review Illinois legislation as a resource to members and area businesses to help them stay informed and assist with compliance.
• Michael Hyatt is HR Government Affairs Director at MRA -- The Management Association. Follow MRA on LinkedIn, Facebook: http://facebook.com/MRAmeansHR, or Twitter: @MRA_HR_Pros.