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Schaumburg employment lawyerStarting your own business or becoming your own boss can be a dream come true for many people. In the business world, contracts are essential because they outline the work to be performed as well as the prices that must be paid for services. In general, a contract clearly states the expectations of all the involved parties, whether it is for salaried, hourly, or freelance employees. Additionally, these legal documents can protect the parties if those expectations are not met by designating the consequences for any breach in the agreement. When one party does not hold up their end of the bargain, as they say, the other party may take legal action. An experienced business attorney can make sure that all the necessary information is included in a contract to safeguard against disagreements that may affect a business owner’s livelihood. 

Contract Basics

Verbal agreements or simply handshakes are not legally enforceable in the business world, since it can result in a “he said, she said” situation. For example, if a vendor agrees to perform a specific service but the cost is not put in writing, then a business owner may be faced with an astronomical bill or invoice to pay for services rendered. 

Similarly, employee contracts should include a policy manual that states what is and is not acceptable. For instance, the manual should clearly state any dress code, Internet and cell phone use policies, and other important regulations. It should also explain the company’s discipline policy. In most cases, failure to follow the outlined guidelines can lead to the termination of workers. If these issues are not addressed ahead of time, employees may take advantage of business owners by showing up late to work, making personal phone calls, taking long lunches, and more.  

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Cook County employment lawyerA typical workweek for employees in the United States consists of 40 hours. However, many workers actually spend more time performing their jobs. For jobs that are paid on an hourly basis, anything over 40 hours is usually considered overtime. Although many salaried (exempt) workers work 50-60 hours a week, they may not be eligible for overtime pay depending on their company or employment contract. The Illinois Overtime law (called the Illinois Minimum Wage Law) mirrors the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in many ways. Similar to the FLSA, the Illinois overtime law requires that non-exempt employees receive overtime pay equal to 1.5 times their regular hourly pay for any hours worked over 40 in a week. With so many employees working remotely now in response to the COVID-19 health crisis, it may be difficult to track employees’ hours regarding overtime if they are working from home.

Keeping Track of Hours Online

Since remote employees are generally entitled to the same legal protections that on-site workers have, working remotely can present unique challenges that should be addressed to ensure a company is legally compliant. Employers have certain obligations regarding employees’ hours and wages for overtime pay. As a business owner, accurate record-keeping is imperative. Detailed reporting ensures that management and workers are following proper procedures and company policies.

Businesses throughout the country, including Illinois companies, have implemented remote-work arrangements for their employees due to the coronavirus outbreak. In many cases, this is the first time a company may have allowed its employees to work from home. Essential businesses have remained open during the pandemic, such as banks, grocery stores, and hospitals. Non-essential businesses were temporarily closed, including service industries like hair and nail salons, gyms, and fitness centers. These companies had to pause operations since those workers cannot do their jobs from home. On the other hand, office workers in the business field who do the majority of their work on a computer can perform their duties remotely as long as they have a computer and an Internet connection.

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Illinois-employment-lawyer-minCOVID-19, or coronavirus 2019, is a respiratory illness that can spread from animal to person or person to person. The virus was first identified during an outbreak in Wuhan, China. Currently, health officials are working on a vaccine for it, but that may take up to a year before it is approved. There is no doubt the virus has had a significant impact on people’s lives since it was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). Here in Illinois, Governor Pritzker said he is filing emergency rules that will allow those who cannot work because they are sick with coronavirus to collect unemployment insurance benefits to the full extent permitted by federal law. This would mean employers are required to pay workers who go on sick leave due to coronavirus.

What Are the Symptoms of COVID-19?

It is imperative that a person who thinks they may have coronavirus seek medical attention to avoid life-threatening complications and reduce the spread of it. President Trump recently announced that he was halting air travel from Europe to the United States for 30 days. In addition, he advised citizens to stay away from large gatherings in an effort to contain the virus and avoid further cases of it.

The following upper respiratory symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:

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Schaumburg employment attorneySeveral changes to Illinois laws went into effect on January 1, 2020. This legislation affected many different areas of the criminal justice system, including employment law. Employers are required to follow certain rules and uphold standards in order to maintain a good business standing. Companies are regulated by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which was passed in 1938 to improve workplace conditions. Since that time, there has been a much greater focus on sexual harassment prevention in the workplace. Signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker in 2019, the Workplace Transparency Act (WTA) was enacted at the first of the year and is intended to prevent workplace discrimination and harassment while providing greater protections for Illinois employees. Depending on the circumstances, some employers may need to revise certain policies, training, and reporting as they relate to their employees in order to comply with the WTA.

Details of the WTA

Upon their hiring, employees may be required to sign an employment contract that describes the terms of their employment and requires them to follow company policies. The WTA prohibits any contract or agreement that restricts an employee from reporting unlawful conduct or employment practices or testifying about alleged criminal conduct. In addition, the WTA limits the use of non-disclosure or arbitration clauses that would potentially require an employee to waive or mediate a current or future claim regarding an unlawful employment practice.

The WTA allows for confidentiality provisions in employment agreements with prospective and current employees if they comply with specific requirements. Provisions that would be considered against public policy may be included if the employer and the current or potential employee both agree to these terms in writing, and the agreement reflects “actual, knowing, and bargained-for consideration” from both parties. The agreement must also state that the employee has the right to:

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Schaumburg employment law attorney for independent contractorsDepending on the industry or field of work, companies may hire employees or independent contractors (often called freelancers) or even a combination of both. Although either type of worker may perform similar job duties, it is important to understand the distinction between them as an employer. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) considers several factors to determine whether a worker is designated as an employee or an independent contractor. Some of the main differences between these types of workers include how they are paid, taxes, and insurance benefits. Every business is unique, and what works for one company may not work for another. If you are an Illinois business owner, it is imperative that you understand the laws and how they relate to your employees. In some situations, utilizing independent contractors may benefit your business in the long run.

Cost Savings

One of the major benefits of using independent contractors versus salaried employees is the cost savings. As a business owner, when you hire a worker who is classified as an employee, you have to pay additional expenses that you would not pay for an independent contractor. These costs include the following:

  • Medical/dental/vision insurance
  • Equipment/supplies/office space
  • Workers’ compensation insurance
  • Social Security and Medicare taxes
  • Unemployment compensation insurance

Staffing Flexibility

In some cases, a company may only need workers for certain periods of time throughout the year. During these “busy times,” an employer can hire personnel based on fluctuating workloads. This alleviates having regular employees sitting around doing nothing during the “slow times.” In addition, independent contractors or freelancers may possess special skills or knowledge related to a project, reducing the time spent training newly hired employees. Using freelancers can also help you avoid potential lawsuits that can accompany layoffs or firings, since it is considered “contracted” or temporary work.

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