Protecting Employers Since 1985

Watch Out! The New Year Brings New Laws

1. Employee Classification

As employers are aware, the dreaded U.S. Department of Labor Rule changes which would have required overtime payments to many employees now classified as exempt, are frozen in legal limbo following an injunction preventing the implementations of those rules. Although an expedited appeal of the lower court’s injunction is moving forward, the issue may be mooted with the inauguration of Trump this month.

Nonetheless, employees should make sure not to be caught unaware as to regulations unaffected by the injunction. Many employers first discovered that they were not in compliance with existing classification regulations when they sought counsel as to the anticipated DOL rule change. Regardless of whether the changes to overtime exemption rules are ever implemented, misclassification is a very costly mistake, (with class action exposure), that can usually be avoided by careful self-audit.

2. Sick Leave

-A new Illinois law went into effect 1/1/17 requiring that employers allow employees to use their sick leave time not only for their own illnesses, but also to care for their children, spouse, siblings, parents, in-laws, grandchildren and grandparents and stepparents.

-Effective 7/1/17 both Cook County and the City of Chicago passed ordinances requiring employees to be able to accrue paid sick leave beginning on the first day of their employment at the rate of 1 hour for every 40 hours worked. The laws provide for a cap of 40 hours for each 12 month period, and allow for a carryover of half of the amount of unused sick time of up to 20 hours. These laws may apply even to employers located outside of Cook County/Chicago if, and with regard to, any employees that they have working in Cook County/Chicago at least 2 hours within a 2 week period.

3. VESSA – The Victim’s Economic Security and Safety Act

VESSA requires employers to provide unpaid leave to employees who are victims of domestic or sexual abuse. Effective 1/1/17 small employers with only one employee are now subject to VESSA. Employers with between 1-14 employees must now allow its employees covered by VESSA up to 4 weeks of unpaid leave. Employers with between 15 and 49 employees must continue to allow 8 weeks of leave and those with 50+ employees must allow 12 weeks of leave.

4. Greater Employee Privacy

The Illinois legislature has further clarified employees’ right to privacy as to their personal online accounts in changes to the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act. The amendments, which became effective 1/1/17, clarify, among other points, that employers cannot require that an employee, “access a personal online account in the presence of the employer” and cannot require an employee to join an online account established by the employer or require that an employee add the employer as a contact to the employee’s online account or to a group affiliated with an employee’s online account.

This law does not limit an employer’s right to monitor its employee’s use of its email accounts and electronic devices so long as the employer does not use the employee’s personal online password to access the employee’s personal online account information.

Questions? Contact Attorney Jennifer Adams Murphy at the St. Charles office at (630) 377-1554 or by email at

COVID-19 Resources

Stay up-to-date about developments in the Midwest


Contact us at any of our four Midwest locations

Schedule your confidential consultation

Contact Wessels Sherman if you would like to speak with one of our experienced labor and workplace attorneys, contact any of our four office locations and schedule a consultation.