2024 Updated Version

Illinois employee handbook

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Illinois handbook policies

Illinois employee handbook overview

It is important to incorporate both state-specific and federal policies while creating your employee handbook in Illinois. Regardless of whether your workforce is entirely based in Illinois or just a few, it is necessary to provide an Illinois-specific handbook to ensure that your employees are aware of the policies and rights they are entitled to under state law. 

You can find the mandatory state policies for Illinois, federally required policies, and other optional policies below.

What should be included in a Illinois employee handbook?

Every handbook should include Federal, State, and (if applicable) City-specific policies.  Below are Illinois-specific policies that should be included in your handbook. 

  • Illinois Final Paycheck Policy: Employers are required to provide the employee with their final paycheck in accordance with the timeline of when they would receive it had they remained employed.
  • Illinois Personnel Files Policy: Employers are required to provide rules regarding accessing and copying personnel records.
  • Illinois Lactation Accommodation Policy: Reasonable accommodations are required to be provided for nursing mothers.
  • Illinois Medical Donor Leave Policy: Employers are required to provide the employee with paid leave for medical donations.
  • Illinois Victim Leave Policy: Employers are required to provide leave for employees who have been, or whose family or household members have been, the victim(s) of domestic, sexual, or gender violence (or any other crime of violence).
  • Illinois Family Bereavement Leave Policy: Employers are required to provide unpaid leave to employees experiencing events of a family bereavement.
  • Illinois Voting Leave Policy: Employers are required to provide employees with paid leave for voting.
  • Illinois School Involvement Leave Policy: Employers are required to provide leave for employees to attend their children’s school activities. 
  • Illinois Volunteer Emergency Worker Job Protection: Qualified volunteer emergency workers are entitled to job protection when carrying out their duties.
  • Illinois Family Bereavement Leave Act: Employers with more than 50 employees may be entitled to 10 days of unpaid leave for the death of a family member.
  • Illinois Organ Donation Leave: Employers with 51 or more employees are required to provide paid leave for employees to donate blood or an organ.
  • Illinois Jury and Witness Duty: Employees are allowed to take leave for jury or witness duty when responding to a summons.
  • Illinois Day of Rest: The company must provide 24 hours of rest within every 7-day consecutive period.
  • Illinois Meal Periods: Employees are entitled to meal periods, including a meal within the first 5 hours of their shift.
  • Illinois Family Military Leave: This leave provides time off for family members of active-duty military personnel.

City-specific policies that should be included in your Illinois Employee Handbook

Some states have cities that require specific policies to be included for employees that are based there. 

  • Chicago, Illinois and Cook County Sick Leave Policy: Employers are required to provide employees with earned, paid sick leave.  

Illinois Paid Leave

On January 1, 2024, the Illinois Paid Leave for All Workers Act (“PLAWA”) was updated to provide new paid leave benefits for employees.

The policy applies to nearly all employees working in Illinois, regardless of the size of the business. This includes part-time and full-time employees. The leave can be used for any reason, without the need to specify or justify their absence. This flexibility helps ensure that employees can manage their personal, health, and family needs.

Here are a few things to know about the updated leave policy.

  • Employees will accrue 1 hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked, up to a minimum of 40 hours total paid leave per year. Employers may offer more generous accrual rates at their discretion.
  • Employees should provide notice of their intent to use paid leave if the leave is foreseeable. The notice should be reasonable and comply with the employer’s usual procedures unless an emergency prevents such notice.
  • Employers are required to keep detailed records of hours worked and paid leave accrued and taken by employees for a minimum period, ensuring transparency and accountability.
  • The policy strictly prohibits retaliation against employees who request or use paid leave, providing protections for employees to exercise their rights without fear of adverse employment actions.
  • Employers must review and adjust their existing leave policies to ensure compliance with the new Illinois Paid Leave policy. This may involve updating employee handbooks, leave request forms, and payroll practices.
Illinois Paid Leave FAQ

Can Illinois employers require employees to provide a reason for using Paid Leave?

No, employers cannot require employees to provide a reason for using their paid leave. The policy is designed to allow employees the flexibility to use their leave for any purpose without the need to disclose personal or specific reasons to their employer. This ensures privacy and encourages employees to take necessary time off without fear of judgment or repercussions.

How should Illinois employers handle paid leave accrual for part-time employees?

What happens to unused paid leave at the end of the year in Illinois?

What are the record-keeping requirements for Illinois paid leave?

Create your Illinois employee handbook now

Federal Policies

Don’t forget about Federal Policies

There are policies required by federal law in all 50 states, and so they must be included in your handbook no matter what state your employees are based in.  Some of the most important policies are outlined here, however, all federal policies should be included in your handbook.

  • Equal Employment and Anti-Discrimination Policy
  • Sexual Harassment Policy
  • Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Policy (required for companies with 50 or more employees)
  • Military Service Leave
  • Get the full list of federal policies from the free handbook template builder
Federal handbook policies

Additional Policies

Other Policies to Include in Your Illinois Employee Handbook

  • Workplace Violence
  • Employee Conduct and Work Rules
  • Conflict of Interest and Business Ethics
  • Receipt of Non-Harassment Policy
  • Receipt of Sexual Harassment Policy
  • Health and Safety
  • Confidential Company Information
  • Insurance
  • Workers’s Compensation
  • Open Door Policy
  • Equipment and Property Including Intellectual Property
  • Sick Days
  • No Solicitation / No Distribution
  • Benefits Overview
  • Use of Communication and Computer Systems
  • Punctuality and Attendance
  • Holidays
  • Vacation Benefits
  • Benefits
  • Working Schedule
  • Employment Records
  • Inspections
  • Smoking
  • Pay Day
  • Overtime
  • Timekeeping
  • Employee Categories
  • Performance Reviews
  • Lactation Breaks
  • Direct Deposit
  • Company Vehicles
  • Personal and Company Owned Communication Devices
  • Personal Visitors and Telephone Calls
  • Hiring Relatives
  • Business Expense Reimbursement
  • Social Media Policy
  • Introductory Period
  • General Handbook Acknowledgment
  • References

Employee handbook requirements by state

Click on a state to learn more about policies and recommendations.

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Poster Requirements

Illinois labor law posters

Understanding labor law poster requirements can be a bit like trying to decode a complex puzzle. You need to comply with both state and federal requirements.

Why Should I Care About Displaying Posters?

You might be wondering why it's so important to display these posters in the first place. State and Federal laws mandate that employers must have up-to-date labor law posters conspicuously displayed for their employees. Failing to do so not only results in steep fines (up to $35,000 in federal fines and additional state fines) but also exposes you to real liability.

Consider this scenario: if an employee decides to bring a lawsuit against your company, and you don't have the required posters or they are outdated, you could face even more significant problems:

  1. Statute of Limitations: Normally, there's a limited window within which an employee can file a lawsuit against you. However, if you didn't inform your employees of their rights through proper poster display, a court might decide that the statute of limitations doesn't apply.

  2. Operating in Bad Faith: Courts may determine that you were intentionally withholding information from your employees, which could lead to a finding that you were operating in bad faith. This can substantially increase your liability.

What Are the Requirements for Displaying Labor Law Posters?

Labor law posters must be displayed at every physical location where you have employees, and they need to be conspicuously displayed for all to see.

  • If you have a hybrid workplace with both in-person and remote employees, you'll need physical posters at your facilities and electronic distribution to your off-site workers.
  • For fully remote companies, you can distribute posters electronically by sharing a permanent link to the appropriate posters.
  • Some posters also need to be visible to job applicants, such as FMLA, Equal Employment Opportunity, and Employee Polygraph Protection posters, as per the guidance provided by the Department of Labor.

What Labor Law Posters Do I Need to Display?

You'll need both Federal and State labor law posters for each state where you have employees. The good news is that all the posters you need are provided for free by the federal government and state departments of labor. You've probably seen those convenient "all-in-one" laminated posters, but if you prefer, everything you need is also available as a free, printable document from the Illinois Department of Labor.

Federal Poster Requirements

Determining which federal posters you're required to display can be influenced by various factors, including your industry, the size of your company, benefits you provide and union affiliation.

The good news is that there's a handy tool to help you understand precisely which federal posters your company needs. You can use the Federal Poster Advisor tool  to determine your specific federal poster requirements.

Illinois Labor Law Poster Requirements

You can refer to the Illinois Department of Labor for free, printable posters.

Download Illinois labor law posters here
Let’s build this thing!

What’s included with the handbook builder

Creating a new handbook only takes a few minutes. And it’s easy. You can get started by answering a few interactive questions about your company. A few examples:

  • How many employees do you have?
  • Do you have employees in multiple states?
  • Do you have an introductory period for new employees?
  • Do you offer paid holidays?
  • What is your payroll schedule?

Company culture

Communicating your company culture

In all businesses, building a strong company culture can be essential to boosting morale and aligning employees. Arguably, it is even more key for small businesses. With a small team, the impact of a strong culture is made more apparent. Here are some important things to remember when building a strong company culture.

Evaluate Your Current Culture

Since company culture is primarily determined at the top, here are some key questions to ask your leadership team to evaluate where your culture currently stands:

  • Are we open about how things work at our company?
  • Do our employees know what is expected of them?
  • Do we value our employee’s feedback?
  • How do we demonstrate that our employees are valued? 
  • What are our company values?
  • Do we clearly express these values? 

Set Your Goals

From your answers to the previous questions, pinpoint what is lacking and make goals to improve on those areas. This could mean having clearer communication for employee expectations, defining company values, or creating monthly team-building activities to build morale. 

Respecting Employee’s Work-Life Balance

A large part of communicating that your company values its employees is demonstrating respect for their lives outside of work. A strong employee handbook can allow this to be done in a clear, effective way. Company leaders should detail expectations, but also be open about their own work-life balance to build transparency. Trust is key in a great company, and when leaders show genuine empathy for employee responsibilities at home, a foundation for transparency and cooperation is built. 

The Link Between Culture and Happiness

Many surveys and analyses of employee feedback indicate that the majority of employees care as much about the culture of the company they work for as their salary.  In small companies, culture is frequently undervalued. In order to reduce turnovers and increase recruitment, companies need to understand that there is a link between strong culture and the one important question employees think about regularly: “Am I happy working here?”.

Understanding and Communicating Your Company’s Culture

In order to effectively communicate your company’s culture, you need to understand it. By asking your team the right questions, setting goals, and valuing employees, you can be sure to be on the right track. 

Communicating this culture is an essential next step toward aligning with your employees. Not every culture is a good fit for every employee, and being honest upfront is important for making sure you are hiring employees best aligned not only with the skills a company requires, but the culture of the workplace. Research shows that when looking for a job, 77% of people polled would consider a company’s culture and work atmosphere before applying. By clearly communicating your company culture up front, you can ensure that more candidates who align with your team values will apply for a position.

Creating an editable handbook

How to create your new small business handbook

  • Get an up-to-date handbook
  • Edit online or download Word Doc
  • Includes essential policies
  • EEOC, harassment and discrimination policies
  • Customizable optional policies

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