Illinois Adds Paid Lactation Breaks, Employee Expense Reimbursement, and Military Protections

September 05, 2018
Inside HR
Wage & Hour
Read time: 4 mins

Paid Lactation Breaks

On August 21, 2018, Illinois Governor Rauner signed a bill immediately amending the Illinois Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act. The bill now requires that Illinois employers provide a reasonable amount of paid breaks to mothers who breastfeed or express milk at work. Until now, Illinois required that employers provide unpaid nursing breaks and that they "must, if possible, run concurrently with any break time already provided to the employee." The recent amendment softens that language to state that breaks "may" still run concurrently with other breaks, but employers "may not reduce an employee’s compensation for the time used for the purpose of expressing milk or nursing a baby."

The amendment specifies that this requirement lasts until one year after the child’s birth.

Key Takeaway

Bottom line is that nursing mothers must now be paid for lactation breaks unless the employer can demonstrate that doing so would be an “undue hardship” under the Illinois Human Rights Act. The bill was effective August 21, 2018, so Illinois employers should immediately review their current nursing/lactation policy and made any necessary changes to comply.

Expense Reimbursement Requirement

On August 26, 2018, Illinois amended the Wage Payment and Collection Act by adding a new provision requiring employers to reimburse employees for all necessary expenses that are incurred by the employee within the employee’s scope of employment that are directly related to services performed for the employer. Specifically:

  • Employees will be required to submit expenses, along with appropriate supporting documentation, within 30 calendar days after the expense is incurred, unless the employer provides for additional time in a written expense reimbursement policy.
  • The employer would not be responsible for losses due to an employee's own negligence, losses due to normal wear, or losses due to theft unless the theft was a result of the employer's negligence.
  • Employees would not be entitled to reimbursement if the employer has a written expense reimbursement policy and the employee failed to comply with such policy.
  • Employees would not be reimbursed for expenses not authorized or required by the employer.
  • The employer may set caps on reimbursement amounts as long as the policy provides for more than a de minimis reimbursement.

Key Takeaway

Employers should evaluate positions in their organization to determine what type of expenses employees are required to incur in the course of doing their job, including such things as cell phones, data plans, and home internet service. If questioned, the courts may expect an employer to provide at least some reimbursement for costs associated with an employee using his or her own equipment for work. This would align with court decisions in California where similar law language exists.

The above requirements are effective on January 1, 2019.

Strengthened Employee Military Protection

On August, 27, 2018, Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced a new law that clarifies and strengthens existing laws to ensure that Illinois service members' employment and rights are protected while they are fulfilling military requirements.

Senate Bill 3547, the Illinois Service Member Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (ISERRA), strengthens and simplifies current state laws designed to provide employment protections to service members.

Protections under ISERRA include basic protections under the Uniform Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) that apply to all employers but are expanded to prevent poor performance reviews during periods of military leave. These protections include reemployment, protection from discrimination and retaliation, as well as health insurance and pension protections. ISERRA also includes benefits for full-time public employees who are members of a reserve component in the form of paid military leave and expanded health plan coverage. There are three categories of protected persons under the definition of "military service":

  • Service in the Armed Forces of the U.S., the National Guard of any state or territory regardless of status, and the State Guard as defined in the State Guard Act. "Military service," whether active or reserve, includes service under the authority of U.S.C. Titles 10, 14, or 32, or State active duty.
  • Service members in a federally recognized auxiliary of the U.S. Armed Forces when performing official duties in support of military or civilian authorities as a result of an emergency.
  • Employees who are absent from a position of employment for the purpose of medical or dental treatment for a condition, illness, or injury sustained or aggravated during a period of active service in which treatment is paid by the U.S. Department of Defense Military Health System.

Key Takeaway
The law creates the position of ISERRA Advocate to provide training and information to employers and service members. The advocate will be responsible for investigating complaints. ISERRA also mandates employers post a notice of employee rights under ISERRA. The required posting can be downloaded here.

The above requirements are effective on January 1, 2019.

Source: Michael Hyatt, HR Government Affairs Director, MRA – The Management Association, CCH/Wolters Kluwer, State of Illinois General Assembly,