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Illinois Raises Minimum Wage to $15 per Hour

Tuesday, February 19, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed SB 1 into law. Beginning January 1, 2020, Illinois will quickly begin escalating towards a $15 per hour minimum wage.

Pritzker had made the new minimum wage his number one legislative priority after taking office in January. The bill first passed in the Senate by a vote of 39-18 that was strictly down party lines, with all Republicans voting against and all Democrats voting in favor. In the House, 5 Democrats joined with House Republicans to oppose the measure, but it was not enough as the measure passed by a 69-47-1 margin.

The roll-call for the votes in the Senate can be found here and for the House may found here.

Beginning in 2020, the minimum wage ramp-up will begin (with two increases taking place in the first year) until it reaches $15 per hour on January 1, 2025. A schedule of the ramp-up is illustrated below.

18 years and older            Under 18 years of age   
1/1/2020$9.25         1/1/2020$8.00
7/1/2020$10.00         7/1/2020$8.00
1/1/2021$11.00         1/1/2021$8.50
1/1/2022$12.00         1/1/2022$9.25
1/1/2023$13.00         1/1/2023$10.50
1/1/2024$14.00         1/1/2024$12.00
1/1/2025$15.00         1/1/2025$13.00

It should also be noted that the training wage for new employees remains the same at $.50 per hour less than the minimum wage in effect at the time of hire through the first 90-days of employment.

Through our partnership with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, MHA had endorsed two compromise proposals. The first would have followed a model already adopted by the State of Oregon, which would have allowed different minimum wage levels based on geography. The highest level would have been for the City of Chicago, a second level for certain suburban areas in close proximity to Chicago, and a third level for the rest of the state. The second compromise offered called for a longer ramp-up time for non-Chicago businesses, allowing them more time to work up to the $15 level. Both proposals were rejected by Governor Pritzker along with most General Assembly Democrats.

Supporters of the measure contend the new law contains a tax credit for small employers. However, it needs to be pointed out that this credit excludes many small employers. For example, the following are not eligible for the credit:

  • Any employer with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees in their entire operation—not by location. (NOTE: The legislation does not define how many hours constitute full-time. That will be determined in the rules, therefore employers have no way of knowing how to calculate the potential credit.)
  • Any employer who has more than one franchised store OR files taxes as part of a unitary group.
  • Any employer who pays more than the minimum wage at that time.
  • Any employer whose average wage is less in the current quarter vs. the quarter the year before. Therefore, if an employer is forced to lay-off or cut hours to afford the rapid rise to $15, he/she would not be eligible for the credit.

MHA would like to thank our members in Illinois who responded to the various alerts we sent out as this legislation was being decided. We know many of you contacted your Senators and/or Representatives to share your stories on how this law would impact your store.

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