Illinois passes laws
restricting pay cards
and criminal background checks
Each effective 1/1/15
Recently Governor Quinn signed into law two pieces of employment legislation: 1) the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act (“JOQAA”) , which effectively bans most inquiries of applicants about their criminal history, and 2) amendments to the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act limiting an employer’s use of pay cards, also known as “e-pay.”
In each case Illinois joins other states in these initiatives, driven by policy considerations that applicants’ conviction records cannot per se disqualify them for hire, and that when hired employees compensated through pay cards are often denied their wages in a timely manner, and sometimes cheated out of their full wages.
The JOQAA covers employers with fifteen or more employees in the current or preceding year, and “agents” of covered employers are also within the law’s jurisdiction. Public employers are not covered. For covered employers limited exemptions apply, e.g., positions for which applicants with records of convictions are excluded by law.
The IDOL has administrative authority over this new statute; there are no private causes of action.
Under the new pay card law no Illinois employer can condition employment upon the worker’s use of such a card (or electronic payment). Instead, an employer must get voluntary consent from the employee before being paid via a pay card. Employers must offer alternatives to pay cards, and must provide employees full disclosure of the terms of the pay card arrangement. The law further requires that an employer must provide full access to wages every two weeks, and no less once a month provide a written recap of pay card use.
Assessment of initiation or transaction fees, building in loans against future wages, cash advances, and overdraft fees – all are illegal.