Equal Pay Compliance Statements – Yet Another Amendment to the Illinois Equal Pay Act

Earlier in the year, we reported here about recent amendments to the Illinois Equal Pay Act (“EPA”) that would require employers with more than 100 employees in the State of Illinois to obtain an equal pay registration certification from the Illinois Department of Labor (“IDOL”) by March 2024. On June 25, 2021, Governor Pritzker signed into law additional amendments to the section of the EPA that address this reporting requirement. In summary, the most recent amendments address the following:

  • For covered businesses authorized to conduct business in Illinois on March 23, 2021, the amendment identifies the reporting period for this certification – i.e., March 24, 2022 to March 23, 2024.
  • For covered businesses authorized to conduct business in Illinois after March 23, 2021, the amendment specifies that the application to obtain an equal pay registration certificate may not be submitted before January 1, 2024.
  • Covered businesses must submit “wage records” along with their equal pay compliance statement.  Those wage records track the information specified in the earlier amendment – i.e., the business’s most recent EEO-1 Report, a list of employees (separated by gender, race and ethnicity categories) during the past calendar year, the county in which the employee works, date of hire, total wages paid during the past calendar year, and any other information that the IDOL deems necessary for its review.
  • As described in our prior post, the March 2021 amendment stated that a covered business had to submit an equal pay compliance statement certifying its compliance with certain specified provisions.  Additionally, a covered business had to indicate how it sets compensation and benefits, citing whether it utilized: (1) a market pricing approach, (2) state prevailing wage or union contract requirements, (3) a performance pay system, (4) an internal analysis, or (5) an alternative approach to determine what level of wages and benefits to pay its employees.  If the business used an alternative approach, it was required to provide a description of that approach.  Notably, the June 25, 2021 amendment removes this latter requirement.  Now, a covered business must certify the “approach” it takes in determining the level of wages and benefits to pay its employees.  Acceptable approaches include, but are not limited to, a wage and salary survey.
  • The penalty structure for failing to obtain a certificate or revocation of a certificate has changed as well, for businesses with 100 or more employees, by establishing a set penalty of $10,000 per violation.
  • Any individually identifiable information collected from a covered business through the application or reporting process will be confidential and exempt from FOIA disclosure.  However, a current employee of a covered business can request anonymized data regarding their job classification or title and the pay for that classification, and the decision as to whether an equal pay registration certificate has been issued, not issued, revoked or suspended will be public information.
  • The newest amendment also subjects IDOL employees who willfully and knowingly divulge confidential information collected during the application or certification process to certain penalties.

Knowing the type of data subject to disclosure in the coming years, Illinois businesses with more than 100 employees should consider reviewing their current pay practices in preparation for this new compliance requirement.