A flood of legislation and other developments in 2019 brought big changes to business practices for Illinois employers. Last week at the MRA Illinois Law Update, over 100 attendees heard from several top local attorneys about the most important trends and developments.
Here are several significant employment developments that were talked about and their impact on workplace policies and practices:
Employers must respond to workplace harassment by employees, customers, contractors, vendors, and other visitors. There is a very fine line between horseplay/teasing and “sexual harassment” and it’s now required that all employees are trained annually on what constitutes sexual harassment. Even an employee that is based outside Illinois, but works or interacts regularly with Illinois employees, is recommended to be trained. The Illinois Department of Human Rights will be releasing free online training for employers in February; however, employers can conduct their own training or hire an outside vendor, like MRA.
The #Metoo movement put the spotlight on pay equity in the workplace. Where wage and hour claims have often been filed in low-wage jobs, professional women are now taking employers to court. It’s a fact that employees talk about pay more now than ever—especially millennials. Accept that it is happening and know that your employees can (and will) share pay data.
Salary History Ban
Illinois recently became part of a growing trend in states and municipalities passing legislation which prohibit employers from asking applicants about their salary history during the recruitment process. To minimize risk of pay equity discrimination, employers should conduct internal audits, train managers, maintain data, and deal effectively with employee complaints and set your behaviors accordingly.
Have you heard? Recreational use of marijuana is legal in Illinois as of January 1, 2020, and with it came a host of changes for Illinois employers—most notably that employers are still free to create and enforce zero tolerance and drug-free workplace policies. After the smoke cleared, attendees were given some practical key takeaways:
- Revise (and re-communicate) your policy on drug use in the workplace to reflect marijuana legalization. Policies should make clear your company's position on the use or possession of marijuana in the workplace as well any prohibition of employees working under the influence of the same. If you will continue to drug test, make sure your policy is clear on this point.
- Train your management team on how to properly observe and document the symptoms of impairment in the workplace and their impact on the employee's job performance. MRA recently launched a new eLearning module on Drugs and Alcohol in the Workplace, to help managers (and others) recognize and address drug and alcohol abuse. Members who are interested in onsite training can contact MRA at email@example.com to discuss options.
MRA has also developed a helpful guide for Illinois employers with answers to their questions on recreational marijuana. Members can download the Q&A for Illinois Employers on Recreational Marijuana from our website.
And finally, we have a dedicated webpage on Illinois Legislative Changes to assist Illinois members with the two biggest law changes: required harassment prevention training and marijuana. As always, MRA is here to help. Our 24/7 HR Hotline Advisors can answer your questions at 866-HR-HOTLINE (866.474.6854), or email InfoNow@mranet.org.