Jay Shattuck | Executive Director, Employment Law Council | 217-544-6590


The mission of the Employment Law Council is to effectively represent Illinois employers on employment law issues such as workers compensation, unemployment insurance, employment discrimination, workplace mandates and other management/employee issues. We advocate public policy actions that advance the interests and viewpoints of employers, and to assist in creating a political climate conducive to improving Illinois' ability to create and retain jobs.
The Council accomplishes its mission with the involvement of hundreds of employers who participate in our three committees: Workers' Compensation; Employment Law & Litigation; and Unemployment Insurance.  Through the efforts of these committees we develop policies and strategies that are implemented by the Council and Illinois Chamber staff.
The House and Senate announced they will return to Springfield to resume in Special Session next week beginning on Wednesday, May 20 through Friday, May 22.  The House will meet in the Springfield convention center and the Senate will meet in their chamber at the Capitol. Lobbyists and other stakeholders will have very limited access to either building or lawmakers on an in-person basis while they are in Springfield.
By being in Special Session, the Joint Senate and House Proclamation is restricting the issues to be considered by the General Assembly as follows:
  1. The COVID-19 pandemic or other disasters;
  2. The State budget and its implementation;
  3. Economic recovery, infrastructure projects and funding thereof;
  4. The explanation, arguments for and against, and the form for constitutional amendments as required under the Illinois Constitutional Amendment Act;
  5. Laws or authority scheduled to be repealed prior to June 1, 2021;
  6. The 2020 General Election and the State Board of Elections; and
  7. The hospital assessment program.
The Illinois Chamber and the Employment Law Council's number one message to returning lawmakers is "DO NO MORE HARM"! The General Assembly's enactment of new mandates, new opportunities to sue employers, and new taxes on employers will add costs that bring a business that much closer to shutting its doors and eliminating the jobs that result from the closure of that business.
Two issues we believe will be considered during next week's Special Session are unemployment insurance and workers' compensation.
Unemployment Insurance: Three issues that need to be addressed to secure much needed federal funds for administration of the unemployment system by the Illinois Department of Employment Security are: 1) waiver of the benefit charges for individual employers due to COVID-19; 2) waiver of the one week waiting period for benefits to start; and 3) addition of 13 weeks of benefits past the 26 weeks of regular benefits.
Workers' Compensation: With the judicial victory and subsequent repeal of the Workers' Compensation Commission's emergency rule to broaden the rebuttable presumption for COVID-19, we expect the General Assembly will push for enactment of similar provisions in the statute. Preparing for a potential legislative solution, the Council staff with assistance from members of its Workers' Compensation Committee has prepared a legislative compromise to be introduced by Sen. John Curran (R- Willowbrook).
The compromise seeks several changes to the current law.
  • Expands the current workers covered by the rebuttable presumption by:
    • Removing the five year requirement for firefighters, emergency medical technicians (EMT), emergency medical technicians-intermediate (EMT-I), advanced emergency medical technicians (A-EMT), and paramedics;
    • Adding law enforcement officers; and
    • Adding health care providers, nurses, or assistive employees employed in a health care, home care, or long-term care setting with direct COVID-19 patient care.
  • Requires the employee to show contraction of COVID-19 by either a confirmed positive laboratory test or, if a test was not available, by the employee's physician's documented diagnosis based on the employee' symptoms.
  • An employer is able to defeat the presumption if :
    • the employer provides evidence to support a possible finding that the employee's occupation was not a cause of the disease; or
    • if the employer shows that the employee's worksite followed the appropriate Centers for Disease Control (CDC) interim COVID-19 Guidance for Businesses and Employers and any updated changes to such guidance.
  • Specifically provides that an employee who has contracted COVID-19 but who fails to establish the rebuttable presumption is not precluded from claiming an injury.
  • Provides that the date of injury is the date that the employee was unable to work due to a diagnosis of COVID-19, or due to symptoms that were later diagnosed as COVID-19, whichever occurred first.
  • Provides that an employer shall be able to offset liability for temporary total disability (TTD) benefits for payments to the injured employee for: a) paid leave due to COVID-19; b) sick leave benefits or family medical leave benefits paid under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act; and c) unemployment insurance benefits paid pursuant to the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
  • Requires the Commission to provide a detailed report on COVID-19 workers' compensation and occupational diseases claims to the Governor, members of the General Assembly and the Workers' Compensation Advisory Board by January 15, 2021.
  • Provides for an effective date for the rebuttable presumption for employees who contracted COVID-19 on or after March 9, 2019 and until 30 days after the Governor's COVID-19 State of Emergency expires.
New Potential Liability Regarding Employer Provision of PPE's
HB 5769 sponsored by Rep. Andre Thapedi (D-Chicago), creates the Personal Protective Equipment Responsibility Act requiring an employer designated as an essential employer under a disaster proclamation issued pursuant to the Illinois Emergency Management Act or an executive order issued pursuant to the disaster proclamation to provide personal protective equipment to independent contractors and to all employees during the duration of the disaster proclamation or executive order. Allows a court to grant an injunction, revocation, forfeiture, or suspension of any license, registration, certificate, or other evidence of authority of any person to do business in this State . Authorizes the recovery of damages, including punitive damages, and attorney's fees.
This is a very flawed proposal that violates the exclusive remedy doctrine of the workers' compensation law and places businesses using independent contractors in a catch 22 position of potentially violating the direction and control test for whether an individual is classified as an employee. It also assumes that the PPE is readily available and employers are just refusing to provide it. Many employers when attempting to buy PPE from regular health care suppliers often were told they had no PPEs. Web sites claiming to have PPE in stock have minimum order amounts that smaller employers are unable to meet. Also, many PPEs were to be shipped from China arriving in mid-July. County health departments also struggled to obtain PPEs for their use.
We will be opposing HB 5769 and encourage you to contact your state representative asking them to vote "no". For a copy of our position paper send an email to jay@shattucklobbying.com .

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