New Illinois Laws Require Employers To Reevaluate Policies And Practices

Author:Ms Kimberly Ross and Becky L. Kalas
Profession:Ford & Harrison LLP

Breaks for Expressing Breastmilk Must Be Paid

Effective August 21, 2018, Illinois amended its Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act (820 ILCS 260/10). The prior law, which went into effect in 2001, required employers who have more than five employees to provide unpaid break time to an employee who needed to express breast milk for her nursing infant child. The amendment now requires employers to pay for "reasonable" break time spent expressing breast milk, no matter how long it takes or how often it needs to occur. A limit of up to one year after the birth has now replaced a previously undefined period.

Further, the prior version required the break time to run, when possible, concurrently with any break time already provided to the employee. The new version states that the break time "may" run concurrently but it no longer has to. Instead, an employer is required to provide "reasonable" break time as needed by the employee unless to do so would create an "undue hardship" as defined under the Illinois Human Rights Act (which is a fairly high burden for an employer to meet). The "undue hardship" standard is higher than the prior version, which allowed employers to refuse or restrict lactation breaks if to do so would "unduly disrupt the employer's operations."

The bottom line is that Illinois employers must immediately review their policies on expressing breast milk and further ensure that employees' pay is no longer being deducted for those breaks.

Employee Expense Reimbursement Now Mandated

Effective on January 1, 2019, Illinois will join eight other states in imposing a statutory requirement for employers to reimburse employees for certain expenses incurred. The Illinois Legislature has added a section to the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act and will now require employers to reimburse employees for all "necessary expenditures" incurred by employees within the scope of employment and "directly related to services performed" by the employers. 820 ILCS 115/9.5. The term "necessary expenditures" is defined as "all reasonable expenditures or losses required of the employee in the discharge of employment duties and that inure to the primary benefit of the employer." The employer will not be responsible for any losses due to the employee's own negligence, due to normal wear, or due to theft (unless the theft was caused by the employer's negligence).

The new law requires employees to submit "appropriate" supporting documentation for any...

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