New Laws -- Mid-Summer Edition
Given that July 1 marks the beginning of the State’s fiscal year, readers should know that 18 house and senate bills were signed into law by the Governor, many of which went into effect on July 1 and some of which will go into effect on January 1, 2023.
Employment Law. Effective January 1, 2023, amendments to the Family Bereavement Leave Act will take effect. This statute applies to employers with more than 50 workers and covers employees who have worked as least 1,250 hours over the last twelve months. The law provides that an employer must provide up to ten unpaid leave days to grieve the death of a family member. The amendments expand the definition of “covered family member” to now include “an employee’s child, stepchild, spouse, domestic partner, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent.” Also, the scope of events that entitles an employee to leave now include (i) a miscarriage; (ii) an unsuccessful round of intrauterine insemination or of an assisted reproductive technology procedure (e.g., artificial insemination or embryo transfer); (iii) a failed adoption match or an adoption that is not finalized because it is contested by another party; (iv) a failed surrogacy agreement; (v) a diagnosis that negatively impacts pregnancy or fertility; or (vi) a stillbirth. Pro Tip: Employers are allowed, but not required, to request “reasonable documentation” to support such leave.
Also, effective January 1, 2023, amendments to the One Day Rest in Seven Act redefine the period in which employees are entitled to “twenty-four consecutive hours of rest” and also mandate new meal break and employer notice obligations. Failure to conspicuously post notice of these rights at the workplace can lead to penalties. The Department of Labor has not yet released the relevant notice for posting. This law applies to employers with one or more employees. Pro Tip: Mark your calendar to periodically check with the DOL prior to the January deadline in order to remain compliant.
Schools. A plethora of new school laws became effective on July 1. They include new rules that:
● Require schools to develop a truancy policy that must be communicated to students and parents/guardians at least annually;
● Change provisions to youth suicide awareness and prevention programs and further requires schools that issue ID cards to provide contact information for mental health and suicide prevention resources on that ID card;
● Require report cards to include the number of teachers that are National Board Certified Teachers;
● Allow students to disclose certain mitigating factors, such as the student’s status as a parent, expectant parent, or victim of domestic or sexual violence, in suspension or expulsion hearings;
● Provide that home instruction or correspondence courses must be made available to students who are unable to attend school because of pregnancy-related conditions, parenting obligations related to the health of a child, or health and safety concerns arising from domestic or sexual violence.
● Create a Loan Repayment Program for eligible social workers employed in public elementary or secondary schools to receive grants for the repayment of educational loans.
Miscellaneous. As of July 1, the Illinois Family Relief Plan became effective. It includes income and property tax rebates as well as temporary cuts in several sales taxes. It is estimated that the law will provide $1.83 billion in tax relief. Of significance: (a) The State’s one percent grocery tax will be suspected through June 30, 2023, (b) The normally scheduled motor fuel tax increase will be delayed until January 1, 2023; (c) The 6.25% tax on schools supplies and clothing will be reduced to 1.25% from August 5 through August 14, 2022; (d) Eligible homeowners will receive a property tax rebate in an amount equal to their real estate tax credit on their 2021 return, up to $300; (e) Individuals making less than $20,000 in 2021 will receive a $50 income tax rebate; and (f) Couples with income less than $400,000 will receive a $100 rebate.
A new law requires manufacturers of “wipes” to clearly and conspicuously label their products as “do not flush.” Municipalities are granted the authority to enforce this law and to collect penalties of up to $2,000 for a first violation and up to $10,000 for a third and any subsequent violation.
Nurses were the focus of House Bill 4666, which has now been signed into law. It mandates that health care facilities maintain at least $1 million of malpractice insurance per incident. Further, nurse staffing agencies will now be prohibited from (a) entering into non-competes with nurses or aids and (b) requiring fees be paid if a nurse is hired by a health care facility.
Finally, the CROWN (“Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair”) Act amends the Illinois Human Rights Act to expand the definition of “race” to include “traits associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles such as braids, locks, and twists.” This new definition means that “[u]nlawful discrimination … against a person because of his or her actual or perceived race” pursuant to the Human Rights Act now includes discrimination based on hair texture or hairstyle.”