In recent months new legislation has been introduced affecting employers. Here is an update on the most recent actions.
Iowa’s drug testing laws have been revised, making the defrauding of drug or alcohol tests a criminal offense. The revision applies to all preemployment, reasonable suspicion, post-accident, and random testing situations. It also makes it unlawful to manufacture, market, sell, distribute, use, or possess synthetic urine or urine additive for the purpose of defrauding a drug or alcohol test (Sec. 715A. 11, added by H. 283, L. 2021.) The first offense is a misdemeanor and subsequent offenses are considered a serious misdemeanor.
Illinois is now the second state to require that employers mandating vaccinations pay employees for the time spent obtaining them. This falls under the Illinois Minimum Wage Law as well as the FLSA, the Illinois DOL stated. It was further ruled that state-mandated sick leave cover time spent taking qualified family members for vaccinations. The Illinois DOL published guidance for employers on providing leave time and flexibility in order to encourage employees to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine.
On March 23, 2021, Governor Pritzker signed an amendment, effective immediately, to the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) that imposes new requirements for employers who conduct criminal background checks. For employers who have a multi-state compliance system in place, these new requirements mirror those that exist in many other jurisdictions so these are not significant changes. In addition, these new Illinois requirements incorporate steps that employers already take when complying with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Prior to making a hiring decision based on a conviction record, Illinois employers must follow these steps:
- Assess if the nature of the crime directly relates to the job sought or held and if the individual poses an unreasonable risk to the work environment. Recency, severity, and other details of the crime related to relevancy should be considered.
- Follow the Adverse Action Notification process by notifying the individual of the decision and considerations related to it, allowing a response period, and notification of the final adverse action decision.
- Inform individuals of their right to file a charge.
Multi-state employers should review their adverse action notices to ensure compliance.
As of March 15, 2021, Minnesota has introduced new restrictions on social gatherings. They join several other states moving forward to open businesses and gathering places. As of April 15, 2021, employees who have been required to work from home will no longer need to, but it is still recommended. Accommodations should still be considered for those requesting to work from home.
On February 25, 2021, Governor Evers signed a bill that provides immunity for employers from any act, or failure to act, in response to situations resulting in COVID-19 exposure. This retroactive bill covers claims brought forward after March 1, 2020, and protects individuals and companies from legal action, as long as there is no intentional misconduct or wanton disregard. It also provides an additional layer of protection for tort or worker’s compensation claims.