Three Laws and Regulations to Watch out for in 2017

The rules for employer-employee relations are ever-changing, and a small business without a dedicated HR department might not have the time to remain up to date on the current laws and policies. At the turn of the new year, wide reaching new laws went into effect. It is essential for Chicago’s small business owners to comply with the changes to avoid any unnecessary legal consequences.

Minimum Wage Increase

On Jan.1, 2017, the minimum wage was increased in 19 states covering 21 different municipalities. While the federal rate remains untouched at $7.25, states and cities are taking it upon themselves to gradually increase their minimum wages. As of July, 1 2016, Chicago minimum wages were set at $10.50 in an effort to progress towards a $13 per hour minimum by 2019. Meanwhile, the state of Illinois lags behind at $8.25.

Illinois Freedom to Work Act

Large, sweeping non-compete agreements have become standard in any employment contract, regardless of an employee’s pay level or potential to harm the business. The Illinois Freedom to Work Act, signed in Aug. 2016, was designed to make job hunting easier for employees. Companies that issue universal restrictive agreements to all new employees – especially low-wage employees – should review their employment contracts. As of Jan. 1, 2017, new contracts with these sweeping agreements will be void.

Work Privacy Social Media

As of Jan. 1, 2017, new rules for personal social media accounts in the workplace were entered into effect. The HB4999 bill is an effort to keep laws updated with the ever-advancing technology and social trends. Under the new bill, employers may not require employees to give them access to their personal social media accounts, nor will employees be required to authenticate or submit their accounts for employer inspection. These protections are intended to guard employees and potential employees from negative consequences for refusing to provide access to personal accounts.

While larger companies have the luxury of a dedicated HR department to stay abreast of law changes, it is difficult for smaller businesses to do the same. However, it is the responsibility of Cole Sadkin to stay on top of changes in policies and law. Having an attorney on retainer allows a business to take preventative measures to avoid any legal complications.

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