New Illinois Employment Laws

As of January 1, 2017 four new laws in Illinois are opening doors for people with past felony convictions to work in Illinois schools, park districts and health care facilities.

Take action now and help to spread the word about these new employment laws.  View a one-page summary of the new employment laws.  If you are or someone you know is still being denied the opportunity to work in these fields, email advocacy@cgla.net.

Schools 

P.A. 99-0667/HB 4360, Rep. Cassidy & Sen. Van Pelt

Previously, a conviction for a drug offense or misdemeanor cannabis, prostitution, or public indecency convictions barred a person from working in a school FOR LIFE.

Now, convictions for a drug offense have a 7-year waiting period before individuals are eligible to work in schools, instead of a life-time ban to employment.  Misdemeanor convictions for cannabis, prostitution or public indecency no longer bar a person from working in a school.

Park Districts 

P.A. 99-0884/SB 3005, Sen. Collins & Rep. Cassidy

Previously, a conviction for a drug offense or misdemeanor cannabis, prostitution, or public indecency convictions barred a person from working in a park district FOR LIFE.  Juvenile adjudications for a drug offense barred a youth FOR LIFE from working in a park district.

Now, convictions for a drug offense have a 7-year waiting period before individuals are eligible to work in park districts, instead of a life-time ban to employment.  Misdemeanor convictions for cannabis, prostitution or public indecency no longer bar a person from working in a park district.  Juvenile adjudications for drug offenses are no longer a bar to employment.

Health Care Licenses 

P.A. 99-0886/SB 42, Sen. Martinez & Rep. Lilly

After 2011, a person convicted of a forcible felony was barred FOR LIFE from receiving a health care license from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).

Now, a person with a forcible felony conviction is eligible to apply for a health care license 5 years after their conviction or 3 years after their release from the Illinois Department of Corrections, whichever is later.  IDFPR has discretion to decide whether to grant a license.

Unlicensed Health Care 

P.A. 99-0872/HB 4515, Rep. Lilly & Sen. Harmon

Previously, a person who was lawfully eligible to work in health care still had a “red flag” on the Health Care Worker Registry, discouraging employers from employing qualified individuals.  A conviction for misdemeanor cannabis required a health care waiver to work.

Now, the Health Care Worker Registry will focus on a person’s eligibility to work and the website will contain information on the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidelines. A conviction for misdemeanor cannabis no longer requires a health care waiver.  A working group is being created to study the effectiveness of the health care waiver process, which will lead to further improvements.

Restoring Rights and Opportunities

Community Renewal Society and FORCE (Fighting to Overcome Records and Create Equality) leaders worked with the Restoring Rights and Opportunity Coalition of Illinois (RROCI) to lead the passage of the these four bills in the Illinois General Assembly.  RROCI is a coalition spearheaded by Cabrini Green Legal Aid, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Community Renewal Society, and Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights. RROCI is committed to solutions driven with a community voice and believes that Illinois needs a fair system of justice which recognizes human dignity and that everyone deserves a meaningful future. 

The National Employment Law Project estimates about 42% of Illinois adults have a criminal record, and nearly half of American children have at least one parent with a criminal record.  Still, there are hundreds of employment barriers under Illinois law, making it harder for people with criminal records to find jobs and build financially secure lives for themselves and their families.  Continuing to remove barriers to employment will help to reduce recidivism and increase public safety.  Join us as we persist in restoring the rights and opportunities for men and women with criminal records. 

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