BULLETIN: Federal and Illinois Legislative Changes

MARCH 26, 2021



The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021, includes changes to several key employment-related categories including:

FFCRA “COVID Pay” Changes

  • Extension of employers’ ability to voluntarily provide employees with paid leave (and obtain tax credits) is through September 30, 2021
  • New / reset 10-day leave bank beginning April 1, 2021 (i.e., previously exhausted leaves reset and start with a new 10-day bank)
  • New non-discrimination rules (e.g., can’t base on compensation, full-time status or tenure)
  • Expanded list of qualifying reasons:
    • Employee is obtaining or recovering from a vaccination
    • Employee is seeking or awaiting results of a test for or a diagnosis of COVID-19


  • Former employees who were involuntarily terminated could be eligible for COBRA at no cost
  • Includes premiums/coverage from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021
  • The federal government will pay 100% of the COBRA premiums through a credit against an employer’s Medicare taxes
  • Pending additional government guidance related to the treatment of dental and vision coverage

Unemployment Benefit Updates

  • Supplemental benefits remain at $300 per week through September 6, 2021
  • First $10,200 received in 2020 is non-taxable for households with income under $150,000

Employee Retention Credit Extension

  • Program to encourage businesses to keep employees on payroll through refundable tax credits
  • Extends credit through December 31, 2021
    • $7,000 maximum credit per employee per quarter for a total of $28,000 per employee in 2021
  • Includes new group of new startup businesses

Multiemployer Pension Plan Relief

  • Financial assistance for significantly underfunded plans
  • Not subject to repayment


On March 23, 2021, Governor Pritzker signed SB1480 into law with a goal to strengthen equal employment and pay practices throughout the state. Effective now, the law covers the following:

Criminal History Protections

  • Illinois employers can no longer disqualify a job applicant or employee with a conviction record unless:
    • There is a substantial relationship between the criminal history and the job; or
    • Employing the person would result in an unreasonable risk to safety or property loss
  • Candidates and employees can now file a charge of discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights

Equal Pay Act and Reporting Changes

  • Private-sector Illinois employers with 100+ employees will now be required to submit pay data by gender, race and ethnicity as part of their corporate filing with the Secretary of State (SOS)
  • The SOS is authorized to release the data to the public on its website
  • Employers will need to demonstrate equal pay and employment (or reasonable justifications for non-compliance) for females and minority employees
  • Employers will have 3 years (March 2024) to obtain the equal pay certificate from the state and then every 2 years thereafter
    Questions, comments, feedback?

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact:
Jason Eisenhut 630-286-7341 jeisenhut@employco.com