Over the last number of years, businesses have been hammered by various Government entities (Local, County, State, and Federal) with regard to establishing new policies or procedures that increase the cost of business operation. There is no doubt that the implementation of Obamacare, Tax Increases, increased Medicare/Medicaid contributions, and Executive Orders over the past four (4) or five (5) years have increased the cost to business operations. While some of those costs are fairly obvious, actions taken by the City of Chicago, the County of Cook, and the State of Illinois have also "increased the cost of business operation" and in the opinion of the author, are some of the reasons that businesses are leaving the State.
Some of those "added on Government costs" are as follows:
1. ILLINOIS CHILD BEREAVEMENT ACT - Illinois Employers with at least fifty (50) Employees must provide Employees who suffered the loss of a child up to two (2) weeks of Unpaid Leave to allow for grieving. The law also provides for a cause of action against Employers who retaliate against Employees who want to take the Leave. This Law became effective July 29, 2016.
2. ILLINOIS EMPLOYEE SICK LEAVE ACT - Although the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) already requires covered Employers to provide to eligible Employees up to twelve (12) weeks of Unpaid Leave to care for family members, this new Law expands the coverage. The Law requires Employers who voluntarily provide Sick Leave to permit Employees to use that Sick Leave to care for immediate family members, parents-in-law, grandchildren, or grandparents. The Law takes effect January 1, 2017.
3. ILLINOIS FREEDOM TO WORK ACT - The Freedom to Work Act prohibits Employers of any size from entering into Non-Competition Agreements with low wage earning Employees, defined under the Act as individuals who are earning $13 or less per hour. Under no circumstances can an individual who is making $13 or less per hour be required to sign a Non-Competition Agreement. This legislation is an outgrowth of the recent Jimmy Johns litigation. This Law becomes effective January 1, 2017.
4. UNPAID LEAVE FOR VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ABUSE/DOMESTIC VIOLENCE - This Law, which becomes effective January 1, 2017, amends the Victim's Economic Security Safety Act by expanding the Law to cover any and all Employers who employ at least one (1) individual. Employers who employ up to fourteen (14) Employees will be required to provide up to four (4) weeks of Unpaid Leave during any twelve (12) month period; Employers of fifteen (15) to forty-nine (49) Employees must provide eight (8) weeks of Unpaid Leave and Employers of fifty (50) or more must provide twelve (12) weeks of Unpaid Leave. This expansion of Unpaid Leave is effective January 1, 2017.
5. COOK COUNTY SICK PAY LEAVE ORDINANCE - Any Employers in Cook County (i.e. place of business within Cook County employing at least one (1) Employee), Illinois must allow eligible Employees to accumulate up to forty (40) hours of Paid Sick Leave in each twelve (12) month period of employment. Individuals who work at least two (2) hours of work for a covered Employer in any two (2) week period and individuals who work at least eighty (80) hours in any 120 calendar day period are eligible. Employees can begin accruing Paid Sick Leave no later than the 180th day following the commencement of their employment and may use the Sick Leave for their own illness, injury or medical care and, as well, for the illness, injury or medical care of family members. The term "Family Member" includes a child, legal guardian, ward, spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent of a spouse or domestic partner, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or any other individual related by blood or close association that would be equivalent to a family relationship. This Law is effective July 1, 2017 but has caused extensive controversy in the State and a number of individual towns and villages (e.g. Mount Prospect, Barrington, etc.) are considering passage of legislation to exempt Employers within those geographic boundaries of compliance with the Law.
6. CITY OF CHICAGO REQUIRED SICK LEAVE - As of July 1, 2017, the City of Chicago will require Employers to provide individuals with Paid Sick Leave. This Ordinance will apply to all Employers who maintain a facility within the City or who are subject to its licensing requirements. After a six (6) month probationary period, the Law will allow Employees who work at least two (2) hours within the City during any two (2) week period or who have worked eighty (80) hours in a 120 day period to accrue one (1) hour of Paid Sick Leave for forty (40) hours worked up to a maximum of forty (40) hours of Paid Sick Leave in a twelve (12) month period. Individuals will also be allowed to carry over two and one half (2 ½) sick days into the following calendar year.
7. CITY OF CHICAGO MINIMUM WAGE - Many of you are aware that, effective July 1, 2015, the City of Chicago established a Minimum Wage (July 1, 2015 - $10 per hour; July 1, 2016 - $10.50 per hour; July 1, 2017 - $11 per hour; July 1, 2018 - $12 per hour, and July 1, 2019 - $13 per hour). While the City of Chicago Minimum Wage has been in existence since July 1, 2015, it is obviously a continuing "Government cost of doing business in the City of Chicago".
No one knows what the future will bring for "Government increase costs to business". Whenever Government establishes a "new employment policy", it will cost Employers! To the author, it is indeed surprising that individuals who have de minimis or no business experience or acumen are now considering themselves experts on "the cost of doing business".
Questions? Contact Attorney Walter J. Liszka in our Chicago office at (312) 629-9300 or by email at [email protected]