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Common Mistakes Found in Illinois Employee Handbooks

By Anthony J. Caruso Jr. of Wessels Sherman posted in Employee Handbooks on Friday, October 27, 2017.

Beware Illinois employers! Just because a policy is in or not in your employee handbook does not make it legal under employment laws.

After reviewing literally hundreds of Illinois employee handbooks, I have noted some common mistakes and areas of concern:

Anti-Harassment/Sexual Harassment Policy: MISTAKES

· Policy does NOT exist or is NOT in handbook;

· Policy required by law if Company contracts with State of Illinois;

· Policy limits the chain of command for reporting harassment;

· Policy retaliates against alleged victims if claim is found to be frivolous, reporting employee may be disciplined.

Vacation Pay Policies: MISTAKES

· Policy has too long of a waiting period (i.e., one year) to earn benefits in violation of Illinois Department of Labor regulations;

· Employee forfeits earned vacation upon separation of employment (i.e., failed to give two week notice upon resignation or termination for cause). These are violations of the Illinois Department of Labor regulations;

· Policy fails to provide provision that employee does not earn vacation while on a leave of absence.

Sick Pay Policies: MISTAKES

· Company does NOT have paid sick leave policy in compliance with City of Chicago or County of Cook ordinances which were effective July 1, 2017;

· Policy does NOT include use for illnesses of qualified dependents as provided under the Illinois Sick Leave Act;

· Policy automatically deducts from employee’s final pay check negative sick leave balance in violation of the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act.

Leave of Absence Policies: MISTAKES

· Company has 50 or more employees and is covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act but fails to have the complete provisions of FMLA in the employee handbook as required by law;

· Company does not have a policy for pregnancy accommodation in the handbook as required by the Illinois Human Rights Act;

· Company has personal leave of absence/medical leave of absence policy that limits the maximum duration of the leave (e.g., 6 months) instead of leave assessed on a case by case situation. Set limitations of duration is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The above mistakes are only a sample of some of the common mistakes Illinois employers make in their employee handbooks. Wessels Sherman highly recommends that employers have their handbooks reviewed by employment law attorneys on a regular basis to avoid such mistakes.

Questions? Need an employee handbook review? Contact Attorney Tony Caruso in our St. Charles office at (630) 377-1554 or by email at

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