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.
Gov. Pritzker Issues New Penalties for Business Failure to Enforce Mask Wearing
 
Gov. Pritzker has issued an emergency rule through the Illinois Department of Public Health that imposes potential criminal penalties for businesses that fail to enforce his mandatory face mask order.
 
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce and other business groups urged the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) to reject the rule at its meeting this past Tuesday. JCAR is a bipartisan legislative oversight committee that is authorized to conduct systematic reviews of administrative rules promulgated by State agencies. JCAR is composed of 12 legislators who are appointed by the legislative leadership, with the membership apportioned equally between the two houses and the two political parties. 

Our concerns communicated to JCAR members were:1) the rule is a one size fits all. The rule should clearly differentiate between business facilities that regularly interact with the public and those that don't; 2) the penalties for failure to wear a mask should not be applied to the business. Business compliance issues should be limited to what business can control and are required to comply with such as signage, public gathering lists, etc. Individuals need to be accountable for wearing their masks.

JCAR member Rep. Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) made the motion to stop the implementation of the emergency rule which required 8 votes. The vote was 6-5. In support of the motion were: Rep. Reick; JCAR Co-chair Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Aurora); Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon); Sen. John Curran (R-Woodridge); Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris) and Sen. Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo). Voting against the motion were: JCAR Co-chair Sen. Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago); Sen. Tony Munoz (D-Chicago); Rep. Mike Halpin (Rock Island); Rep. Frances Hurley (D-Chicago); and Rep. Andre Thapedi (D-Chicago).

The rule sets forth a process designed to encourage voluntary compliance before a business is ordered to comply or is subject to penalties. The rules provide multiple opportunities for compliance before any penalty is issued and allow for a penalty that is significantly less severe than the penalties (like license revocation or closure) that are currently available. Individuals are not subject to any penalty under the rule. It is unclear as to whether the rule applies only for businesses and organization "open to the public".
 

Requirements and restrictions for Illinois employers:
  • Any individual over age two and able to medically tolerate a face covering is required to cover their nose and mouth with a face covering when in a public place and unable to maintain at least a six-foot social distance.
  • Any business, service, facility, or organization shall take reasonable steps to require employees, customers, and other individuals on the premises to wear a face covering.
  • Public and nonpublic schools, ranging from preschools through post-secondary institutions, and day care centers and homes shall require students, employees, and other individuals on the premises to wear a face covering.
  • Gatherings of more than 50 people or more than 50% of a building's maximum capacity are prohibited unless exempted by law or Executive Order. Businesses that comply with the guidance issued by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) are complying with the Executive Order and thus are complying with this rule. (Here is the DCEO Guidance)

Enforcement framework for non-compliance with face covering requirements:

IDPH, all local boards of health, health authorities and officers, police officers, and sheriffs are authorized to enforce the emergency rule as follows:

Enforcement against a business, service, facility, or organization open to the public
  • First, the establishment will be given a written notice of non-compliance by an enforcing entity and a reasonable opportunity to come into compliance.
  • Second, the establishment may be ordered to have some or all the people on the premises disperse if it does not voluntarily comply in a reasonable time after receiving a verbal or written notice.
  • Third, any establishment that refuses to comply with a written order to disperse will be subject to the penalties set forth in Section 8.1 of the Department of Public Health Act, which could include a Class A Misdemeanor. For an establishment, the only possible penalty is a fine of between $75 and $2500 for refusal to voluntarily comply after an opportunity to come into compliance.
  • Enforcing entities are required to take into consideration reasonable efforts taken by the establishment to ensure patrons and employees wear a face covering while they are at the establishment and unable to maintain a social distance of at least six feet.
  • The rule makes clear in numerous places that no individual may be subject to the penalties set forth under Section 8.1 of the Act.
 
Illinois Chamber Releases Independent Analysis of Progressive Tax Hike: Findings include... Disproportionate Impact on Women & Minorities, Shrinks Illinois Economy by Nearly $2 Billion, Increases Consumer Costs, Leads to Reduced Household Spending
 
An independent analysis conducted by Berkeley Research Group in conjunction with Ariel R. Belasen, Professor at SIUE, shows that passage of the progressive income tax on the November ballot would have devastating consequences to Illinois' economy, consumers and jobs. If passed,
the Tax Hike Amendment would shrink Illinois' economy by nearly $2 billion, increase consumer costs by $332 million, lead to out-migration that would reduce household spending, and result in disproportionately more job losses in hospitals, restaurants and individual and family services that tend to employ more women and minorities.
 
The authors of the study were granted complete independence to provide an objective analysis of the effects of the proposed Income Tax Hike Amendment.
 
"This independent study concludes what many of us already knew: this is the worst possible time for a $3.4 billion tax hike on Illinois families and businesses," said Illinois Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Todd Maisch. "The pandemic has already crushed small business owners, manufacturers and farmers, and this independent study proves that the Tax Hike Amendment would be the last straw for many more."
 
"Our report shows that the graduated income tax would be a devastating hit to Illinois' already struggling economy. And, job losses would disproportionately affect women and minorities," said Ariel R. Belasen, Ph.D., Professor at SIUE and independent study co-author.
 
The key findings of the independent analysis include:
 
Job losses would disproportionately affect women and minorities: Women and minorities are likely to be disproportionately affected by the job losses because three of the four sectors of the economy that the economic model indicates will be hardest hit by the tax increase. Hospitals, Restaurants,and Individual and Family Services - tend to employ relatively more workers from these demographic groups.
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
    • Hospitals disproportionally employ women (74.9% of jobs in sector vs. 47% of all jobs across all sectors);
    • Restaurants disproportionally employ Hispanic or Latino workers (26.8% vs. 17.6% of all jobs across all sectors); and
    • The Individual and Family Services sector disproportionately employs women (78.3%) and African Americans (20.7% vs. 12.3% of all jobs across all sectors).
 
Reduction in GDP: Approval of the proposed Constitutional Amendment will cause up to a $1.8billion reduction in the income of Illinois residents annually, as measured by thestate's gross domestic product (GDP).
 
Higher corporate taxes will be passed on to consumers: The corporate tax rate will increase from 9.5% to 10.49% (an increase of10%), the second highest in the country. Studies show that some portion ofrevenues arising from an increase in the corporate tax rate ($332 million)would be passed on to suppliers and customers, increasing prices on goodsand services, and potentially suppressing worker wages.
 
Out-migration of thousands of high-income households: Some of the job losses will result from reduced spending on food and servicesarising from an increase in the rate of out-migration by Illinois residentsseeking to escape the relatively heavy tax burden that the state imposes on itsresidents. Based on the most-recent empirical studies by economists, weestimate that increased out-migration will lead to a reduction in householdspending by taxpayers in the affected income brackets of up to 0.8%.
 
No material income tax relief: The average annual tax relief per filer in the lower income brackets is small,and might be less than a single-family meal at a fast food restaurant for many
filers.

 


President Trump Extends UI Benefits Program
 
On August 8, 2020, President Trump issued an Executive Order instructing the Secretary of Homeland Security, acting through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to make available other needs assistance (ONA) for lost wages in accordance with Section 408(e)(2) of the Stafford Act (42 U.S.C. 5174(e)(2)). The UI benefits will be administered as a supplemental payment through state's and territory's UI systems via a grant agreement with FEMA. FEMA will not administer benefits directly to individuals.
 
The Presidential Memo also directed the Department to provide FEMA and the states with technical assistance in the implementation of the program through their existing UI systems. Upon a grant award by FEMA, states and territories may provide eligible claimants $400 per week, with a $300 federal contribution, in addition to the individual's underlying unemployment benefit. LWA is funded using a 75 percent federal cost share and a 25 percent state match. If states wish to provide this maximum $400 benefit to claimants, they may fund $100 out of amounts allocated to them out of the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), provided under Title V of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (Public Law 116-136), or other state funding to cover the 25 percent state match.
 
Alternatively, states may count funds that are already used to provide regular state UI payments toward the state match, if they choose to do so, eligible claimants will receive a LWA payment of $300 from the Federal Government in addition to the weekly benefit amount. LWA is payable to eligible claimants beginning with weeks of unemployment ending on or after August 1, 2020, through weeks of unemployment ending no later than December 27, 2020. The LWA program may terminate earlier than December 27, 2020, if:
 
* FEMA expends the $44 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) account designated by the President for the LWA program; or
 
* The total balance of the DRF account decreases to $25 billion; or
 
* Legislation is enacted that provides, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, supplemental federal unemployment compensation or similar compensation for unemployed or underemployed individuals.
 
On August 12, 2020 the U.S. Department of Labor released Unemployment Insurance Program Letter No. 27-20 providing guidance to states as to implementation of the changes.
 
A number of questions are created that hopefully USDOL will be answering:
 
  • If an individual is paid less than $100 with respect to a week claimed, are they not eligible to be paid the extra $300 in Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) for that week?
  • How will the Lost Wages Assistance amounts be accounted for so as not to be charged as regular unemployment compensation to employer accounts?
  • If a claimant is overpaid for a week of unemployment compensation or there is a determination of fraud with respect to the regular unemployment compensation claim, will that result in an overpayment with respect to the LWA? How will recovery of overpaid amounts and fraud prosecution be coordinated?
  • In light of the additional administrative burden will there be relief from performance measure review for states?
  • Are LWA determinations appealable as other determinations under the UI grant?
  • The UI PL indicates that the UI grant may not be used to pay for administration of the LWA program and that cost allocations are required from the state for shared expenses.
  • How will this be addressed in determining appropriations for state administration for the balance of Fiscal Year 2020 and for Fiscal Year 2021?
 
Thank you to UWC-Strategic Services on Unemployment & Workers' Compensation for the information for this article.
 

Illinois Chamber Annual Meeting Sponsorships
 
The Illinois Chamber's Annual Meeting set for September 24th from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm central time will be virtual this year. The agenda includes an hour devoted to an "All Council Networking Time" and a discussion of Economic Development in Distressed Communities" featuring Charles Evans, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and Timothy Crane, president of Wintrust Financial Corp. Susana Meza, Vice-President of Community Affairs of Wintrust will be the program's moderator.

Sponsorships: Contact Laurie Silvey at lsilvey@ilchamber.org or 217-306-1832

Bronze Sponsor - $2500
Benefits include:
* Fifteen virtual seats for your company at the Annual Meeting
* Acknowledgement on signage, website, and invite for the event
* ¼ page ad in the Illinois Business Leader September issue
* Add promotional materials on digital platform available for one year online
 
Partner Sponsor - $1500
Benefits include:
* Ten virtual seats for your company at the Annual Meeting
* Company logo on ILChamber.org website
* Listing in Event program and conference banners

Key Legislation
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Upcoming Events

Information on 2020 Meetings & Events will be forthcoming.  

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Not a member and want to learn more about the Illinois Chamber click here to contact Lanae Clarke