Synopsis: AS WE ARE NOW IN 2024—IL WC BENEFIT RATES STILL SPIRAL UP ENDLESSLY??—SHAWN BIERY’S UPDATED IL WC RATE SHEETS AVAILABLE FOR ACCURATE WC RATES AND RESERVING!!!
Editor’s comment: The IWCC has posted a new TTD rate of almost $2,000 a week going into 2024 and max PPD RATE is now well over $1,000.
FYI, Illinois WC rates have updated again so please be aware of the New IL WC Rates or your claims handling will suffer and penalties may ensue. Please also note that the IL State Min Wage is now $14 per hour and will rise another dollar on New Year’s Day, 2025. With the already mandated increases the IL WC rates will again increase for sure. You may also note the City of Chicago’s minimum wage is already $15 per hour—this is important in IL WC wage differential claims.
Illinois WC system appears to have the fourth highest max rates in the entire country. If you look online at https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0452150045#c16, you may note our IL WC rates are double or more than our sister States and because of the statutory increases built into the IL WC Act, this anti-business disparity will only increase. It clearly appears our IL WC Rates are going up much faster than inflation.
As we have mentioned in the past, since the 1980’s, the IL WC Act provides a formula which effectively insures no matter how poor the IL economy is doing, WC rates continue to climb.
As we indicate above, rising minimum wages will strip value from Illinois’ expensive wage loss differential claims. We feel reserves and settlements need to reflect the legislative boost to anyone who has any job. If you aren’t sure how this works, send a reply to Shawn or Gene Keefe.
We caution our readers to pay attention to the fact the IL WC statutory maximum PPD rate is $1,024.87. However, this rate is only going to be valid through June 30, 2024 and the new max PPD will be published in January 2025. When it will be published in January 2025, this rate will change retroactively from July 1, 2024 forward. At that time, if you don’t make the change, your reserves will be incorrect–if this isn’t clear, send a reply.
The current TTD weekly maximum has risen to $1,897.92. An IL worker has to make over $2,846.88 per week or $148,037.76 per year to hit the new IL WC maximum TTD rate.
For WC Death Benefits: The new IL WC minimum sped past the $750k floor for surviving widows/widowers. That amount is now 25 years of compensation or $711.72 per week x 52 weeks in a year x 25 years or $925.236!! The new maximum IL WC death benefit is now over $2 million at the max $1,897.92 times 52 weeks times 25 years or a lofty $2,467.30 plus burial benefits of $8K. IL WC death benefits are paid for 1,300 weeks—in contrast, IN WC death benefits are paid for 500 weeks.
IL WC death benefits also come with annual COLA increases which we feel can potentially make Illinois the highest in the U.S. for WC death claims—again if you aren’t sure about this issue, send a reply to Shawn or Gene. It is also possible to settle IL WC death benefits for a discounted lump sum—again, if you have interest, send a reply to Shawn or Gene.
The best way to make sense of all of this is to get Shawn Biery’s colorful, updated and easy-to-understand IL WC Rate Sheet. If you want just one or a dozen or more, simply send a reply to Marissa at email@example.com AND you can also send any questions to Shawn at firstname.lastname@example.org They will get a copy routed to you once we get laminated copies back from the printer—hopefully before they raise the rates again! Please confirm your MAILING ADDRESS to Marissa if you would like laminated copies sent to your home or office!
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Synopsis: “Our lives, our liberty, and our property are never in greater danger than when Congress is in session.” -Mark Twain. Additional Legal Thoughts, Comments and Opinions by John P. Campbell and Timothy O’Gorman.
Editor’s Comment: As we rapidly enter the second month of 2024, employers need to be sure to keep up with the new Illinois laws impacting businesses throughout the state. Below is a brief summary of new employment laws that IL Human Resource Managers and staff should learn and understand, lest you step into one of the new HR bear traps set by our friends in Springfield.
**Please note** This is NOT a comprehensive list of new laws or intended as legal guidance; we strongly recommend consulting your legal counsel to implement and update your HR policies and handbooks for proper compliance.
Illinois Personnel Records Review Act
The Illinois Personnel Records Review Act (IPRRA) has been amended to permit employees to obtain copies of their personnel records more easily. As of January 1st, employers must email or mail a copy of the employee’s records to the employee upon their written request, regardless of whether the employee can show that they are unable to inspect the records in person prior to receiving a copy. Employers can charge copy costs as may be needed. Assuming the old time limits still apply, you have 7 days to send but can ask for a 7 day extension. Either way, this does happen in WC claims and very few folks know of the rapid speed required to timely reply.
IL Paid Leave for All Workers Act
Effective January 1, 2024, the Illinois Paid Leave for All Workers Act (PLAWA) compels Illinois employers to provide their covered employees up to 40 hours of paid leave per year, to be used “for any purpose.”
On November 3, 2023, the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) proposed regulations interpreting the Act. Where paid leave is accrued, the Act indicates that “all” accrued but unused paid leave must carry over from one 12-month period to the next. Proposed regs state that “employers may establish a reasonable policy . . . restricting employees’ ability to carry over more than 80 hours of unused paid leave.”
Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance
Not to be outdone, and in what appears to be an entirely duplicative law, Cook County adopted the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance as well. This appears to largely mirror the requirements of the Illinois Paid Leave for All Workers Act (PLAWA). The County Ordinance does extend to workers covered by a CBA in logistics (delivery and transport/freight).
The Cook County Commission on Human Rights will enforce this new rule where damages and attorney fees can be assessed.
For those of us within Chi-town city limits, you should note a similar “triplicative(?) ordinance is expected from the City of Chicago sometime later this year.
Amendments to the Illinois Day and Temporary Labor Services Act
There are equal pay requirements for daily and temporary workers assigned to a third-party client for over 90 calendar days in any 12-month period. These workers must now be paid at least as much as the lowest paid directly hired comparative employee.
In what appears a common-sense safety requirement, the day and temporary labor service agency and the third-party client must provide safety training specific to the temporary laborer’s job site.
A separate provision may impact what was formerly called “scab” workers crossing a union picket line. Moving forward, before a temporary laborer can be sent to a worksite where a strike is occurring, the service agency must not only advise the temp worker of the dispute, but the temp worker has the right to refuse the assignment without prejudice to receiving another assignment.
IL Employee Blood and Organ Donation Leave Act
The updated Employee Blood Donation Leave Act has been amended to include paid time off for organ donors. Employers with 51 or more employees must provide any full-time employee who has been employed for six months or more with paid leave to donate blood or an organ. Employees may use up to an hour to donate blood every 56 days. Additionally, employees are permitted to take up to 10 days of leave in any 12-month period to serve as an organ donor. Please note there are additional provisions for extended time for organ donation up to 30 days, but that is unpaid leave protection.
Illinois Freelance Worker Protection Act
The Freelance Worker Protection Act (FWPA), establishes strict protections for freelance workers… basically anyone hired as an independent contractor for only $500 or more! The FWPA sets forth three requirements for hiring or retaining a freelance worker:
(1) The agreement for work must be memorialized in a written contract;
(2) Payment to a freelance worker is required within 30 days following completion of the services or product; and
(3) Companies or contracted entities cannot engage in any discriminatory, retaliatory, or otherwise harassing behavior toward freelance workers.
It is important to note, the Act specifically excludes construction workers, which we reckon would be the most common type of independent contractor.
Amendments to the Unemployment Insurance Act Include Independent Contractors!
Now, within 20 days of hiring any new employees or independent contractors, Illinois employers must submit the new hire’s information via the Internal Revenue Service’s Form W-4 or and equivalent form for purposes of tracking unemployment insurance requirements.
Employers will receive a fine of $15 for each individual they fail to report. The Illinois Department of Employment Security will notify the employer of noncompliance, offering a 21-day grace period to submit the information. However, be warned that “Knowingly” submitting a false or incomplete report will warrant a larger fine of up to $500 per person.
One wonders how businesses have time to actually provide goods and services while navigating the new laws each year… a bit like drinking from a fire hydrant! If you find the need for further legal guidance on these or any labor or employment issues, please do not hesitate to contact our office.
Again, this article is intended as a preliminary “FYI” for Illinois employers and we recommend consulting your employment counsel for compliance and implementation of any new employment laws.
Synopsis: IRS Boosts Mileage Rate for 2024
The IRS is raising the standard mileage rate by 1.5 cents per mile for 2024.
The agency announced the business standard reimbursement rate per mile is rising to 67 cents per mile, up from 65.5 cents for 2023, beginning Jan. 1, 2024.
Please note based on IL case law, this rate is used to defray the cost of mileage to IME’s.
We recommend using Google maps to ascertain the mileage from Claimant’s home to the IME docs office and back, multiply by .67 and send the check with the IME notice.