New Hire Process

Living in a Bi-State Area: An HR Perspective

August 12, 2020
Read time: 3 mins

HR and legal professionals encounter numerous challenges created by living and working in a bi-state area between Iowa and Illinois. From an HR perspective, the two states could not be much more diametrically opposed. While Illinois’ employment regulations cover just about everything except drug-free workplace (although the recent legalization of marijuana has changed that somewhat), Iowa maintains a hands-off approach with employers in just about every area except drugs and alcohol. Just a few minutes spent crossing the bridge (construction delays excepted, of course) finds us in a whole different world.

Bi-State Employment Regulations

Illinois and Iowa have their own set of employee rights. Take leaves of absence, for example. The federal FMLA aside, Illinois mandates a slew of time off rights for employees in multiple areas, like domestic violence, school activities, family military, and blood donation. In Iowa, employers really only have to contend with pregnancy leave and a couple of rarely used leaves, like volunteer emergency services.

The equal employment opportunity laws alone can make an employer’s head spin. Protected characteristics like wage disclosure rights, lawful use of products during non-working hours and social media privacy can make an employer’s activities acceptable on one side of the bridge and illegal on the other.

Last but not least, this November’s upcoming election poses the challenge of navigating an employee’s right to time off work to vote. Do you know the difference in voting time off rights between Iowa and Illinois?

State-Specific Policies

So what happens when an employer has locations in both states, or employees work in one state and live in the other? Generally, the laws of the state where the work is being performed governs the employee-employer relationship. Due to the surge in remote working arrangements, however, that work is now often being performed on the other side of the river from the employer’s physical location.

In response, states are upping their jurisdictional claims over their residents. In Illinois, for example, if an employee who is an Illinois resident performs work for more than 30 workdays from their home, "the [out-of-state] employer may be required to register with the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) and withhold Illinois Income Tax from the employee."

An employer’s best defense is an effective offense. Even if you have a current handbook, ensuring your handbook successfully balances the requirements of both Illinois and Iowa will go a long way in avoiding confusion. If you have locations in other states, MRA offers state addendums for your current handbook. We follow daily alerts on state laws and maintain an up-to-date library for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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