In recent months, lawmakers in Illinois have begun a serious push for raising the state’s minimum wage by nearly three dollars over the next two years. As one of 29 states with a minimum wage above the $7.25 per hour required by federal law, the minimum wage in the state is $8.25 per hour. With public pressure mounting, however, members of the Illinois legislature have proposed plans which would increase minimum wage to $11.00 per hour by July 1, 2017.
Illinois residents also had the opportunity in November to express their opinion on Election Day by means of an advisory question on the general election ballot. The advisory measure was approved by a margin of more than two to one, with nearly 64% of voters expressing their support of raising the minimum wage to $10.00 per hour in 2015.
Senator Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, sponsored the proposal to bump the state’s minimum wage incrementally which was passed by the Illinois Senate in December. As the measure passed after the Illinois House had already adjourned, there was talk that outgoing Governor Pat Quinn may call a special session in order to accommodate a vote, but such action never materialized. Senator Lightford acknowledged that the plan may have a more difficult path through the House, before getting to the desk of newly elected Governor Bruce Rauner. Governor Rauner has indicated that he would support an increase on the condition that other business reforms are part of the plan.
While Illinois at large awaits the outcome of this ongoing process, Chicago City Council overwhelmingly approved a minimum wage increase of its own in December. The new measure increases the minimum wage within the city of Chicago to $10.00 per hour this year, with incremental increases up to $13.00 by 2019. More than 400,000 workers throughout the city are expected to see a benefit from the increase.
It is uncertain as of yet how two separate minimum wage rates will work within the state. There is some concern that higher labor costs may push businesses out of the city and that job growth may stagnate. Whatever the eventual outcome, it is important for small business owners to be aware of the changing labor environment and remain in compliance with all applicable minimum wage laws.
If you own a business in Illinois and have questions regarding minimum wage requirements, an experienced Illinois employment law attorney at the Miller Law Firm, P.C. can help. Contact our office today and put our experience to work for you.