Illinois: The New Year Brings Employee-Friendly Orders and Legislation

By Erin Fowler - Franczek P.C.

January 21, 2019

J.B. Pritzker assumed the Illinois Governor’s Office on January 14, 2019. By January 15th, Governor Pritzker adopted several Executive Orders and signed into law legislation benefiting Illinois employees. Specifically, Governor Pritzker issued the following Executive Orders:

Executive Order 2019-01

• The Order requires all State Agencies, including the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL), Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR), and all other state agencies dealing with labor and employment issues, to conduct a review of: (1) all statutory obligations, and (2) all audit findings within the last four years and provide a plan to the Governor’s Office detailing steps to ensure statutory compliance and to address audit findings. State Agencies have 60 days to comply with this Order.
• The Order also requires State Agencies, within 30 days of the Order’s effective date, to ensure compliance with all laws and regulations governing the publication of data by the agencies.
• These State Agencies must also provide, within 60 days, a report to the Governor’s Office detailing plans to increase transparency by making data more accessible to the public.

Executive Order 2019-02

• Initially, the Order mandates that all State Agencies take immediate action to comply with the Illinois Project Labor Agreements Act. The PLA requires State Agencies to determine whether project labor agreements are appropriate for various public works projects and requires negotiation between the State Agencies and the relevant unions prior to the hiring of workers and the beginning of the project in question.
• The Order also requires the IDOL to conduct a review of all pending cases under Illinois wage laws within 60 days of the Order taking effect. For those cases under the Illinois Wage Payment & Collection Act, the IDOL is required to: (1) refer egregious and repeated violations directly to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office for civil prosecution; and (2) act to ensure that all other cases proceed quickly to binding administrative hearings, and are then referred to the Attorney General’s Office for enforcement of the administrative decision.
• For cases under other Illinois wage laws, the Order requires the IDOL to review and assess all pending cases and act to: (1) resolve these cases; or (2) refer them as quickly as possible for the Attorney General’s Office for civil prosecution.
• The Order also requires the Department of Central Management Services and the IDHR to review the State’s pay plan with the purpose of eliminating questions asking employees for their salary histories. The intent of this provision is to remove biases in the State’s pay process that negatively impact women and, more specifically, women of color.

In addition to these Executive Orders, Governor Pritzker signed into law an amendment to the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act, requiring several key changes as follows:

• The IDOL must submit an annual report detailing the following for the preceding year: the total number of people employed, and the total number of hours worked on public works projects statewide, by county, and by 5-digit zip code of the individual’s residence.
• The IDOL must study and report on the participation of females and minorities on public works projects in the State. By December 31, 2020, the IDOL must provide recommendations, by county, to increase female and minority participation in these projects.
• The IDOL must establish the prevailing wage rate for each locality. This rate must be equal to or greater than the rate paid for similar work performed under collective bargaining agreements in each locality when the unions within the localities employ at least 30% of laborers, workers, or mechanics in the same trade or occupation needed for the public works project. If no such collective bargaining agreements exist in a particular locality, the IDOL shall determine the prevailing wage rate by looking to the nearest and most similar neighboring locality in which such agreements do exist.
• If an objection is filed to the prevailing wage rate set by the IDOL, asserting that less than 30% of the laborers, workers, or mechanics in a particular trade receive the collectively bargained rate, the average rate paid to these laborers, workers, and mechanics in the same locality the year prior will serve as the prevailing wage rate.
• Finally, the IDOL must create and activate a database for collecting certified payroll information from contractors and/or State Agencies.

We will continue to monitor and provide updates on developments from the Governor’s Office.

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