City Of Chicago Minimum Wage Rate Now $10 Per Hour, Will Increase To $13 Per Hour

LAURA A. BALSON

Partner

MARGARET A. GISCH

Partner


City Of Chicago Minimum Wage Rate Now $10 Per Hour, Will Increase To $13 Per Hour

Since July 1, 2015, all Chicago employees must be paid at least $10 per hour. The new minimum wage ordinance applies, with limited exceptions, to any business that maintains a facility within the City of Chicago and/or is required to obtain a business license, as well as any employees who work in Chicago for two hours or more during a two-week period (which includes making deliveries or sales calls).

The ordinance also includes further increases, scheduled to take effect on July 1st of each year, gradually increasing the minimum wage to $13 per hour by July 1, 2019.

The minimum wage in the rest of the state, outside of Chicago, remains $8.25 per hour, though there is a proposal pending in the state legislature to gradually increase that rate as well.

OBLIGATIONS UNDER THE ILLINOIS PREGNANCY ACCOMMODATION ACT

Earlier this year, Illinois amended its Human Rights Act to create additional protections for pregnant employees and new mothers. The amendment imposes duties on any employer that employs more than one person and protects all employees, including part-time, full-time, probationary employees and job applicants.

The amendment prohibits employers from refusing to hire pregnant employees, segregating pregnant employees, or considering pregnancy when promoting, renewing employment or selecting employees for special training. The amendment also prohibits discriminating and retaliating against a pregnant employee. When a pregnant employee returns from leave, employers must reinstate the employee to her original job, or to an equivalent position with equivalent pay and accumulated seniority and other benefits, unless the employer can demonstrate that doing so would impose an undue hardship upon the company.

Similar to the requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers must grant a reasonable accommodation to a pregnant employee unless it imposes an undue hardship on the company. However, employers cannot require pregnant employees to accept an accommodation that she did not request or that she chooses to decline.

There are many types of accommodations that pregnant employees can request. Some examples include, but are not limited to: (a) frequent or longer bathroom breaks; (b) increased water breaks; (c) light duty; (d) temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position; (e) acquisition or modification of equipment; and (f) leave related to pregnancy or recovery after the pregnancy. It is important to note that Illinois already has a separate statute known as the Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act that requires all employers to provide nursing mothers with reasonable unpaid break time to express milk and a private room (not just a toilet stall) in which to do so.

Employers should consider many factors when determining if there is an undue hardship upon the company, including: (a) the nature and cost of the request; (b) the overall financial resources of the employer with respect to its number of employees and the number, type, and location of its facilities; and (c) the type of operations of the company.

The Illinois Department of Human Resources requires employers to post a Pregnancy Rights Notice Requirement sign in a conspicuous place advising employees of their rights under the new law. The poster is available for download at: http://www.illinois.gov/dhr/Publications/Pages/Pregnancy_Rights_Notice_Requirement.aspx

If you have questions or need additional information, please contact an employment attorney at Golan & Christie.