Illinois enacts strict workers’ compensation bill targeting black-market contractors

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Springfield, IL – A bill introduced by state Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Swansea) to hold employers more accountable for providing workers’ compensation insurance has been signed into law.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on July 12 signed House Bill 269, which Hoffman said was his response to black-market landscaping companies operating “under the radar” without workers’ compensation insurance, putting injured workers at risk, sometimes unknowingly.

“Some jobs are just more dangerous than others,” Hoffman said. “Workers who perform their duties in hazardous working conditions deserve to be protected by their employers in the event that they are injured on their jobsite. Employers that subject workers to dangerous work environments should be held to a higher standard.”

The new law will streamline the hearing and penalty process of the Workers’ Compensation Commission, leading to stronger fines against exploiters. Under it, a single commissioner can approve enforcement actions, instead of waiting for the panel of three commissioners to meet.

The law also allows commissioners to issue work-stop orders quickly in extra-hazardous situations without waiting for a Commission hearing, ruling or proof of insurance.

The maximum penalty on some violations is raised from $2,000 to $10,000, or up to $20,000 for a second violation. Employers with two or more violations may not self-insure for a year.

BIPARTISAN SUPPORT
The House passed the bill 104-10 on April 11 with Hoffman as sole sponsor. It passed the Senate 57-0 on May 16, sponsored by Linda Holmes (D-Aurora). It was supported by the Illinois AFL-CIO, the state IBEW, the Laborers and the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association.

“My legislation will prevent shady contractors and other businesses from making workers unknowingly work without workers’ compensation insurance,” Hoffman said. “I want to thank the governor for signing this common-sense legislation into law and moving Illinois a step forward for workers’ rights.”


 

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