Aldermen’s Advance Measure Designed to Stop Salary Theft | Chicago News

The Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel (WTTW News)

Aldermen on Tuesday brought forward a measure designed to prevent employers from stealing wages from their workers, the first part of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s sweeping reform package to help Chicago businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. ” quickly and comprehensively “to gain the approval of aldermen.

Salary theft costs Chicago workers $ 400 million a year, according to the mayor’s office.

The full city council is expected to vote on the measure on June 23 after unanimous approval from the workforce development committee.

Rosa Escareño, commissioner of the city’s Department of Commercial Affairs and Consumer Protection, said the measure will allow the city’s Bureau of Labor Standards to tackle “bad actors” while standardizing the rules of labor. game for employers who treat their workers well.

“This is the next bold step in the mayor’s continued commitment to making Chicago the most worker-friendly city in the country,” Escareño said. “We cannot resume our usual activities. “

Employers who have stolen wages will be fined 2% of the underpayment for each month wages remain unpaid, or the amount specified by Illinois wage payment and collection law. , whichever is greater.

The measure also speeds up the time frame for employers to pay domestic workers the city’s minimum wage and requires them to get a written contract “to ensure the accountability, transparency and predictability they need to plan for themselves. and their families “, according to the measure. .

Additionally, the measure is designed to prevent large companies with more than one location from underestimating their employees to avoid paying the city’s minimum wage.

The measure also expands the use of sick leave to allow Chicago workers to take time off work for “physical and mental illness” as well as to care for family members when their schools or daycares are ” closed by forces beyond the control of the worker. ”Or they need to help a loved one who has been a victim of human trafficking.

Sick leave can now also be used to comply with a quarantine or isolation order issued by health authorities, depending on the measure. A proposal to rename sick leave to “secure leave” was withdrawn from the measure put forward on Tuesday.

The measure also pushes back a study of the city’s minimum wage for workers who earn tips. While the city’s minimum wage for most workers will rise to $ 15 an hour on July 1, the minimum wage with tips will rise to $ 8.40 an hour in 2021.

The city’s progressive caucus pushed Lightfoot to eliminate the minimum wage with tips as part of the city’s spending plan for 2020, but Lightfoot opposed the change, saying it could hurt small businesses.

However, city officials have agreed to study “the economic impact of slanted wages and the effectiveness of current enforcement” in 2020. Delayed by the pandemic, this year-long study will now begin on July 1.

Another board of the mayor’s COVID-19 business stimulus plan is expected to be reviewed by the city council’s licensing and consumer protection committee on Thursday.

This proposal has been revised since the mayor introduced it on May 26, in part to remove a procedural hurdle imposed by Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th Ward), a frequent critic of Lightfoot. Lopez, along with several other aldermen, opposed the mayor’s plan to ban the sale of alcohol in stores after 10 p.m.

However, the new version was not available to the public on Tuesday afternoon, and a spokesperson for Commercial Affairs and Consumer Protection did not immediately respond to whether the restriction on the sale of alcohol would be included in the revised measure.

In another action on Tuesday, aldermen approved an ordinance designed to ensure hotel workers who wish to return to work are rehired after most hotels have closed for nearly a year during the COVID-19 pandemic .

Employees now have five days to respond to a job offer, while hoteliers are required to rehire employees based on seniority in the same section, according to the measure, which will remain in place until December 2023 if it is passed by the full city council next week. .

The Compromise Measure, written by Lopez and Ald. Ed Burke (14th Ward), was supported by the Chicago Federation of Labor as well as the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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