On January 4, 2015, Illinois Governor Quinn signed the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program Act (S.B.2758). This new Illinois law applies to Illinois private sector employers: (1) with 25 or more employees, (2) that have been in business for at least two years, and (3) do not already offer their employees retirement benefits. By June 1, 2017, covered employers will be required to provide their employees with a retirement savings plan under the state-operated Secure Choice Savings Program. The plan is actually a mandatory 3% payroll wage deduction deposited into a state-run retirement fund. There is an opt-out provision for employees who choose to not participate in the program. Automatic enrollment in the program is mandatory for all employees who do not opt out. The employer obligations are to offer the plan to all full-time employees and auto-enroll all employees who do not opt out. No employer contributions are required. The secure choice plan is not an employer-sponsored plan; it is a state-run program. The employer is not a fiduciary. The Act becomes effective on June 1, 2015.
Illinois continues to be a front-runner in new and expansive employment law legislation. In 2015, Illinois also enacted an earthshaking amendment to the Illinois Human Rights Act, that establishes pregnancy as an independent protected class for employment discrimination claims, and requires a host of pregnancy and childbirth-related reasonable accommodations, including maternity leave. Illinois has also become a ban-the-box state. Illinois employers are now prohibited from inquiring into a job applicant’s criminal background, unless the applicant is deemed qualified and a job interview has been scheduled. To comply with the new employment laws, Illinois employers should revise their employment policies, employee handbooks, and job application forms.