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Return to Work Checklist for Illinois Employers

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Do you operate a small business in Illinois and are wondering how you can safely return to work? 

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Considerations for Illinois Employers While Preparing to Bring Employees Back to Work

This is not an exhaustive list. It is an addendum to the SurePayroll Return to Work Checklist. Employers should consult with their HR professionals, legal counsel where appropriate, as well as the Illinois Department of Labor and COVID-19 websites.

  • Consult federal, state, and local guidance and examine timing of re-opening businesses. Illinois continued to re-open its economy in June and had executive orders in place allowing retail stores, office buildings, bars and restaurants, and more to do so, along with additional guidance for Phase 4. The city of Chicago has its own orders and guidance for its businesses.
  • Determine recall or rehire date for employees? This will depend on a number of factors including, but not limited to, the specific needs and requirements of a business. This may also impact employers seeking loan forgiveness for their Paycheck Protection Program loan, as well as may establish entitlement to leave benefits under FFCRA. Therefore, determining a recall or rehire date will be dependent on the facts and circumstances of each business.
  • Understand any changes to federal, state, or local paid leave laws. For example, Cook County issued guidance on its Earned Sick Leave ordinance and Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection provided FAQs on worker protections during COVID-19 to explain how earned paid sick time may be used in certain circumstances.
  • Understand the obligations under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) if you have unionized employees or an employment agreement, for non-unionized employees. Check applicable agreements for specific obligations. For example, a CBA may provide rehire/recall language, including agreed upon factors in order to bring employees back. Most changes will need to be negotiated with the union. For employment agreement obligations, employers should review the contract and, if in doubt, consult legal counsel.
  • If an employee was terminated and signed a separation agreement, check the language to see if the rehire requires an amendment to the separation agreement.
  • Consider providing letter offering return to work or rehire opportunity to employees. Reinstatement whether from furlough or permanent layoff and documentation of the employee response should be in writing, and documenting offers and rejections may be important for unemployment insurance and for PPP loan forgiveness purposes.
  • Review and adhere to internal policies and state/local laws on rehiring, if any, to determine any reinstatement of accrued sick leave, PTO, or vacation time, especially if these were not paid out at the time of furlough or layoff.
  • Consider providing returning employees with the option to complete a new Form W-4 in case the employee wants to make changes upon returning to work.
  • Explore whether “new hire” employee documents (i.e. employee handbook, handbook acknowledgment, direct deposit, employment agreement, etc.), are required and, if so, properly executed to ensure they are effective.
  • Does the employee need to update an existing Form I-9 or complete a new Form I-9? Review information and compliance requirements for Form I-9.
  • Did employee elect COBRA or Illinois state continuation coverage, and what benefits will employee be entitled to upon their return?
  • Determine status of health plans, cafeteria plans, and fringe benefit plans, such as vision and dental insurance.

  • Determine implications for 401(k), 403(b), and/or pension plans.
  • Evaluate executive compensation and exempt classification status to determine what, if any, changes are necessary. Also review any applicable employment or severance agreements.
  • Consider appropriate health and safety requirements under federal, state, and local laws or specific actions taken related to COVID-19 pandemic. Learn what new supplemental policies on safety are recommended or required to be followed and documented. For example, measures to promote social distancing in the workplace are recommended and safety gear such as masks and gloves may be required to be provided to employees.

Additional considerations as you prepare to return employees to work include applicable wage and hour laws, especially if employees have different work schedules, pay rates, and classification under state and federal laws. Check out our Return to Work resource hub for FAQs and view this Illinois-specific webinar  we co-hosted with Paychex and Oasis on navigating the state’s workplace for helpful information.

For the latest on what Illinois businesses should know:

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This website contains articles posted for informational and educational value. SurePayroll is not responsible for information contained within any of these materials. Any opinions expressed within materials are not necessarily the opinion of, or supported by, SurePayroll. The information in these materials should not be considered legal or accounting advice, and it should not substitute for legal, accounting, and other professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. If you require legal or accounting advice or need other professional assistance, you should always consult your licensed attorney, accountant or other tax professional to discuss your particular facts, circumstances and business needs.