Illinois Employment Law Updates for 2023

It’s easy to lose track of rapidly changing employment laws and find yourself in violation. Brush up on three new Illinois updates that took effect on January 1, 2023.

Illinois State Capitol Building

If you own a practice and have employees, you’re likely covered by state laws regulating everything from bereavement leave to workplace discrimination. Illinois recently updated and passed a few pieces of legislation you need to keep in mind. 

Bereavement Leave

Illinois amended the Family Bereavement Leave Act (FBLA), originally the Child Bereavement Leave Act (CBLA), in June 2022. The CBLA was originally enacted because the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) did not provide for bereavement. 

As of  January 1, 2023, the updated FBLA expands the leave provided by the CBLA, allowing employees to take leave for more family members and additional reasons, including but not limited to miscarriage and failed adoption.  

The FBLA also places some limits on when an employee can use their bereavement leave and how it interacts with the twelve weeks of medical leave provided by the FMLA. If an employee uses FBLA leave before any FMLA leave, the bereavement leave does not count against the twelve weeks of FMLA leave. However, if the employee uses the bereavement leave after using some FMLA leave, the bereavement leave counts against their FMLA leave as well. 

Employers can require reasonable documentation for a bereavement leave, such as a doctor’s note or an obituary. However, they may not require an employee to disclose the category of bereavement leave they need. 

The FBLA covers employers who have at least 50 employees and employees who meet certain requirements for hours worked per week, length of employment, and proximity to other employees.

To ensure you and your employees are current on the FBLA, we recommend updating your bereavement leave policies and educating managers and employees about the additional covered family members and expanded reasons for leave. We also recommend establishing a process if you wish to require your employees to provide documentation for their bereavement leave.  

Hairstyle Discrimination Prohibited

Illinois also passed Senate Bill 3616 in 2022, an amendment to the Illinois Human Rights Act. This amendment extended the Human Rights Act’s protections on racial discrimination and other protected categories, defining “race” to include traits historically associated with race, such as hair texture, and protective hairstyles. 

Keep in mind, the language of the amendment states that traits include but are not limited to hairstyles, so this definition could be construed broadly to apply to many traits historically associated with race, such as dialect and style of dress in addition to hair texture and protected hairstyles. 

To prevent any misunderstandings or potential liability, employers should review their workplace policies to update any provisions prohibiting protective hairstyles or narrowly defining what is considered “professional” for the workplace. Employers should also train all managers and employees — especially those involved in the hiring or evaluation processes  — to avoid making judgments about professionalism or cultural fit based on an individual’s hairstyle. 

For employers concerned about safety and hairstyles in the workplace, we recommend brainstorming ways to safely allow protective hairstyles as you would any hairstyle. For example, the employer could establish a policy that long hair must be tied back or covered when workers engage in certain activities.  

One Rest Day in Seven

The Illinois One Rest Day in Seven Act deals with rest days for covered employees. The amendment to the Act:

  • increased the penalties for non-compliant employers; 
  • changed the requirements for when employers must give employees rest days; and
  • altered the requirements for meal breaks in shifts longer than 7.5 hours. 

Previously, the Act required that employees have one day of rest each calendar week. Thus, an employer could give an employee a Monday off one week and then schedule that employee to work until their next rest day on Saturday of the following week resulting in eleven days between rest days. With the amendment, the Act requires employers to assign rest days on a rolling seven-day basis. The Act does not prohibit employees from agreeing voluntarily to work on their day of rest so long as they are compensated at their overtime rate for all hours worked that day. 

The Act also requires that covered employees receive one twenty-minute meal break for the first 7.5 hours of their shift, to begin no later than 5 hours after the start of their work period. It also requires employers to give an additional 20-minute meal break to employees working longer than 7.5 hours for every additional 4.5 hours worked. 

We recommend that employers with covered employees under the Act review their scheduling and meal break policies and update them to account for the new requirements under the Act. Additionally, employers should train all managers and employees who handle scheduling or manage covered employees on these policies. Also keep an eye on local municipalities’ evaluation of fair work weeks; for example, Chicago instituted new requirements in 2022, and the suburb of Evanston is currently considering a Fair Workweek ordinance.

Moving Forward

We recommend a comprehensive review of all workplace policies impacted by the updated laws. Your attorney can help you draft policies and answer questions about whether these laws apply to you or your employees. 

If you’re in one of the states where Jackson LLP has licensed healthcare attorneys, reach out to us. During a free consultation, you can find out if we’re a good fit for your needs.

This blog is made for educational purposes and is not intended to be specific legal advice to any particular person. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between our firm and the reader and should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.

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