Have you heard the SBAC’s new radio ad running on WCGO 1590AM? Click below to hear the audio and be sure to tune in to 1590AM to hear it live!
The SBAC has an op-ed featured in the Daily Herald Business Ledger in support of SB 867, legislation to lower LLC fees in Illinois. We are working with a robust coalition to see this measure pass the Senate and sent to the Governor’s desk for signature during the fall veto session. We know our state faces many challenges, but we see LLC reform as a real opportunity to display how government can work when elected officials from both sides of the aisle come together. It’s time for Springfield to go beyond the platitudes and take real action in support of the small business community — often lauded, but overlooked when it counts. Click here to read the full piece.
On October 12, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order with the intention of rewriting federal regulations on selling health insurance across state lines. Allowing interstate health insurance plans is a tenet of health care reform long supported by republicans, the premise being it would allow individuals more control over their health care spending, but it hasn’t gained much traction in real application. Opponents of this objective generally site consumer protection issues.
As a one-two punch against the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Trump Administration followed up the executive order by announcing a halt to federal payments to health insurers, or cost-sharing reductions, for the ACA marketplaces. Officials at the Health and Human Services Department said the cutoff would be immediate. According to the Washington Post, the subsidies total about $7 billion this year alone. To learn more how these changes will impact the health insurance market, click here to read the full Washington Post article.
Illinois, along with more than twenty other states, anticipated such a move by the White House and padded silver plan premiums to put the resulting additional costs back onto the federal government. According to Crain’s Chicago Business, “consumers who qualify for cost-sharing subsidies under the ACA are only allowed to use the aid to buy silver plans—mid-level policies that cover certain basics such as maternity care and emergency room services – so the Rauner directed carriers that aim to sell Obamacare insurance to Illinoisans in 2018 to attach a surcharge, on average 15 percent, to silver plan premiums.” While this seems counterintuitive, as premiums rise, so do federal tax credits that reduce monthly premium costs for qualified consumers. By artificially raising the premiums for silver plans, the federal government will end up absorbing the cost of the increasingly expensive coverage sold to subsidized buyers on the exchange.
The major complication in this approach is that individuals who have silver plans on the exchange but do not qualify for subsidies, will end up paying the surcharge out of pocket, unless they select a new bronze or gold plan during open season. This amounts to about 32,000 people in Illinois. In response, the Illinois Department of Insurance, as well as insurance companies, will launch an education campaign to ensure those who do not qualify for subsidies are not selecting silver plans on the marketplace for 2018 coverage. For more information on the latest developments in Illinois, click here to read the full Crain’s Chicago Business piece.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states that employees must be paid time-and-a-half once they work more than 40 hours in a week. However, businesses may exempt workers from the requirement if their duties are “managerial” in nature and they reach a certain salary threshold. This is also referred to as “white collar” exemptions.
The Obama Administration proposed changes to the federal overtime rule that would have nearly doubled the minimum annual salary threshold required to qualify for the FLSA exemptions – from $23,660 to $47, 476. This change was scheduled to take place on January 1, 2016, however, legal challenges effectively stalled implementation, while not actually changing the rule. This left many employers in the dark on their current status. The rule remained in limbo until August 31, 2017, when the Justice Department announced it would not appeal a District Court’s ruling that said the Obama Administration overreached when it expanded the number of people covered by the rule.
However, the overtime regulation pay debate is far from over. On July 26th, 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor posted a Formal Request for Information regarding current wage standards FLSA “white collar” exemptions. This sets the stage for the Trump Administration to revisit the issue.
STRATEGIES FOR PROTECTING YOUR BUSINESS FROM WRONGFUL TERMINATION LAWSUITS
By: Arthur Ehrlich
Employees who believe they were terminated unfairly or without prior warning are likely to file a lawsuit. Although Illinois is an “at-will” employment state, an employer cannot terminate employees based on disability, sex, pregnancy, race, or any other “protected” classification. A failure to treat an employee fairly may create a perception of discrimination which can lead to expensive litigation even if the employer feels the termination was warranted.
While an employer may believe there are strong reasons for termination, discrimination is often based on circumstantial evidence. For example, you may believe you terminated a female employee for chronic absenteeism, but she may believe it was due to her race or gender, especially if Caucasian male employees had several absences and were not terminated. An employer may terminate an older employee for low productivity not knowing that there may be good reasons for this, while younger employees with productivity issues remain at work.
Employers cannot eliminate the risk of a lawsuit, but certain steps can reduce that risk and minimize the likelihood of a successful wrongful termination lawsuit:
1) Create and distribute written policies to employees which include reasonable expectations about conduct and performance. Employees should sign forms noting they read and understand these expectations.
2) Enforce your policies fairly and consistently: This is your best defense against discrimination claims. Disciplining one employee differently than another for similar violations, constitutes disparate treatment which is evidence of discrimination. Eliminate these risks by enforcing your written policies in a consistent manner.
3) Keep records of employee disciplinary issues: It is easier to justify terminating an employee for excessive absenteeism or poor performance if you discuss and document these issues with the employee and give written warnings about continued performance issues or violations of company policies. Have the employee acknowledge in writing that the issue was discussed. Be consistent in documenting these matters for all employees.
The SBAC and our coalition of over fifty local chambers and trade organizations are engaged in a grassroots campaign to see SB 867, a bill to lower all LLC fees to match the current rates paid by corporations, signed into law. Below is a letter sent to the sponsor of SB 867, Senator Tom Cullerton, asking for the measure to be taken up during the veto session:LLC Coalition Letter FINAL
The SBAC was proud to host a discussion with Cook County State’s Attorney, Kim Foxx. The evening in Hyde Park was lead by SBAC Executive Committee Member, Dwayne Hirsch. Per the Hyde Park Herald:
Foxx is the first African American woman to lead the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, the second largest prosecutor’s office in the country. During the event, she spoke about her personal and professional journey to become State Attorney, as well as how her office impacts small businesses in the Cook County area.
The SBAC looks forward to a productive partnership with the Cook County State’s Attorney in hopes of to improving the county’s relationship with entrepreneurs and provide positive change for our state. Click here to read the full article.
ICYMI: Small Business Advocacy Council CEO, Elliot Richardson, on SHOP via Chicago Tribune: Less competition among insurers is bad news for small businesses in the Chicago area. Click here to read the full article.