Paid Lactation Breaks
On August 21, 2018, Illinois Governor Rauner signed a bill immediately amending the Illinois Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act. The bill now requires that Illinois employers provide a reasonable amount of paid breaks to mothers who breastfeed or express milk at work. Until now, Illinois required that employers provide unpaid nursing breaks and that they "must, if possible, run concurrently with any break time already provided to the employee." The recent amendment softens that language to state that breaks "may" still run concurrently with other breaks, but employers "may not reduce an employee’s compensation for the time used for the purpose of expressing milk or nursing a baby."
The amendment specifies that this requirement lasts until one year after the child’s birth.
Bottom line is that nursing mothers must now be paid for lactation breaks unless the employer can demonstrate that doing so would be an “undue hardship” under the Illinois Human Rights Act.
The amended bill is effective August 21, 2018, so Illinois employers should immediately review their current nursing/lactation policy and made any necessary changes to comply with the recent amendment.
Expense Reimbursement Requirement
On August 26, 2018, Illinois amended the Wage Payment and Collection Act by adding a new provision requiring employers to reimburse employees for all necessary expenses that are incurred by the employee within the employee’s scope of employment that are directly related to services performed for the employer. Specifically:
- Employees will be required to submit expenses, along with appropriate supporting documentation, within 30 calendar days after the expense is incurred, unless the employer provides for additional time in a written expense reimbursement policy.
- The employer would not be responsible for losses due to an employee's own negligence, losses due to normal wear, or losses due to theft unless the theft was a result of the employer's negligence.
- Employees would not be entitled to reimbursement if the employer has a written expense reimbursement policy and the employee failed to comply with such policy.
- Employees would not be reimbursed for expenses not authorized or required by the employer.
- The employer may set caps on reimbursement amounts as long as the policy provides for more than a de minimis reimbursement.
The above requirements are effective on January 1, 2019.
Employers should evaluate positions in their organization to determine what type of expenses employees are required to incur in the course of doing their job, including such things as cell phones, data plans, and home internet service. If questioned, the courts may expect an employer to provide at least some reimbursement for costs associated with an employee using his or her own equipment for work. This would align with court decisions in California where similar law language exists.
Strengthened Employee Military Protection
On August, 27, 2018, Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced a new law that clarifies and strengthens existing laws to ensure that Illinois service members' employment and rights are protected while they are fulfilling military requirements.
Senate Bill 3547, the Illinois Service Member Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (ISERRA), strengthens and simplifies current state laws designed to provide employment protections to service members.
The law creates the position of ISERRA Advocate to provide training and information to employers and service members. The advocate will be responsible for investigating complaints and drafting the required notice of rights and duties for employers to post.
The above requirements go into effect on January 1, 2019.
Source: Michael Hyatt, HR Government Affairs Director, MRA – The Management Association, CCH/Wolters Kluwer, State of Illinois General Assembly, illinoisattorneygeneral.gov