Certainly the beginning of the Legislative Session in the State of Illinois during calendar 2019 is attempting to move quickly on the campaign promises of J.B. Pritzker. As everyone will recall, the recently elected Governor's campaign pledge to increase the state's minimum wage has been fast-tracked with the passing, by the Illinois Senate of the "Lifting Up Illinois Working Family's Act" and sending the bill to the State House of Representatives. The Illinois House of Representatives passed the bill on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2019, by a vote of 69-47-1. The bill was signed with extensive media coverage by Governor Pritzker on February 19, 2019.
Last week we reported that a new Illinois Minimum Wage law is all but certain to pass before the end of February. A $15 per hour minimum wage bill was introduced and had the support of newly elected governor J.B. Pritzker.
As I am sure most, if not all, readers of this Illinois Client Update are aware, over the last few years both the City of Chicago and Cook County have been very active in creating legislation increasing the obligations of Employers with regard to Hourly Wage Rates and Sick Leave. Both the City of Chicago and Cook County have seen fit to pass legislation increasing the Minimum Wage and creating a Paid Sick Leave concept for Employers within their geographic boundaries:
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.
In October, 2014, the United States Department of Labor issued its fiscal year statistics, covering numerous Fiscal Years, in various areas of its responsibility and enforcement (Fair Labor Standards Act; Child Labor; Family Medical and Leave Act Enforcement). It is very interesting to note that these statistics clearly confirm a major increase in wage and hour activities as conducted by the Department of Labor with increases in both the amount of recovered back wages and the time spent by agents on enforcement. These increased enforcement efforts have reached "record high levels" in 2013-2014 with more than 8,000 Federal Labor Standards Act cases being filed between April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014, which is a five (5%) percent jump from the previous year. As well, since Fiscal 2000, there has been a 438% increase in federal wage and hour lawsuits. These enforcement and trend statistics are a clear indication to employers that they must use great care and their best practices to ensure compliance with wage and hour laws.