Angela Holmes: Are you ready? Big changes for Illinois employers in the New Year
Business Management

Angela Holmes: Are you ready? Big changes for Illinois employers in the New Year

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Unless you have been living under a rock, you are very aware of the many changes that are on the forefront for Illinois employers as we make our way closer to the year 2020. Let’s look at those that have already gone into effect and those that are on the horizon.

1. Illinois Minimum Wage Change. In Illinois, our minimum wage is currently $8.25 per hour. The year 2020 will bring 2 additional increases to the Illinois minimum wage. Jan. 1, 2020 — the minimum wage will raise a dollar to be $9.25 per hour. On July 1, 2020 — the minimum raise will increase again to $10.00 per hour. These increases are substantial and to have two in one year will affect all businesses in the state.

2. Medical and Recreational Marijuana. January 2020 brings legalization of recreational marijuana in Illinois which will change policy for many Illinois employers. Your workplace drug policy should be reviewed at a minimum.

3. Workplace Transparency Act. The WTA requires employers to review numerous items, among them being severance and separation agreements. Employers should be prepared to implement sexual harassment training that complies with the model training that will be available later. Also required will be tracking and reporting of numerous items. Please review this act sooner than later to see what applies to your organization.

4. Amendment to the Illinois Equal Pay Act effective Sept. 29, 2019. This amendment prohibits Illinois employers from asking a job applicant about or otherwise inquiring about a job applicant's compensation history.

5. New Federal Overtime ruling effective Jan. 1, 2020. Raises salary cut-off to $35,568. Employees who make less than $35,568 are now eligible for overtime pay under a final rule issued by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The new rate will take effect Jan. 1, 2020. You must still follow the exemptions for your determination. It is just the salary cut-off that has changed.

Please take note as what I present here is only the briefest of summaries. There is much more to know and act on. This just enough to allow you to investigate these matters further. You should be aware of these items and following them at this time. I am not able to advise you on these matters or apply them to your organization. You will know what items align with your business and which ones do not. Resist the urge to feel overwhelmed. These items may seem daunting, however do not forget that you do not have to do this alone. We all have several resources at our disposal.

Local resources for employers:

• Southern Illinois Professional Management Association (SIPMA). SIPMA is a great group of professionals that meets monthly. It is made up of managers, supervisors and human resource professionals. SIPMA offers educational and networking opportunities and exists predominantly in the Williamson and Jackson County areas. You can view their website at The website offers additional information on the group and tells you how to join.

• MEI-SHRM (Mount Vernon Chapter) Did you know that the Mount Vernon/Jefferson County/Centralia area has a SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) chapter? This chapter is currently a sister or off-shoot organization of the MEI-SHRM Chapter in Belleville and is currently meeting in Mount Vernon roughly four times per year. Their meetings offer education, networking and recertification credits under SHRM and the HRCI certification tracts. For more information, email me and I can put you in touch with the membership committee chair.

• Local Chamber events and other networking events. Never underestimate the value of networking.

I would greatly encourage you to work with others and seek advice from colleagues. We are all finding our way through these changes. Remember there is not one solution that will work for everyone. We all need to find a solution that works for our organization.

Many of these items require changes in policy and protocol. Do not wait until the last minute. Get ahead of the curve. Give yourself and the organization time to make the proper policy changes and have those changes reviewed by your attorney.

One final step that is often overlooked is proper training and employee communication. Do not skip these crucial steps.

Take these steps to initiate change regarding these items:

1. Don’t go through this alone. Get help from local groups of like-minded professionals. This is also good for your professional development.

2. Seek advice from others in your same role and similar companies or competitors.

3. Continue to network whenever possible.

4. Seek legal review on key policy changes from outside counsel to ensure you comply.

5. Communicate policy changes to employees. Some policy changes require signature and/or acknowledgment of receipt.

6. Include employee training if warranted.

7. Stay positive.

Remember, many of these items mean changes for all Illinois employers. This is a lot of change at one time. Act now and do not ignore these important items.

Angela guides high performers through workplace issues with individual coaching services. Angela is a HRCI certified human resource expert, writer and public speaker. She is the Vice President of Human Resources at National Railway Equipment Co (NRE) and can be reached at



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