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Arlington Heights business law attorneyWhen you own business that operates in a highly competitive industry, it is understandable that you would want to protect your investments, including your time, money, and efforts. If you rely on proprietary systems or recipes, you may require your employees to sign non-disclosure agreements which contractually forbids them from sharing your secrets. Similarly, if you employ a team of skilled employees, you may want to protect that investment as well by using non-compete agreements. According to the law in Illinois, non-competes may be an option, but only if your employees’ wages also represent how much you value your workers.

New Limitations

The Illinois Freedom to Work Act was signed by Governor Bruce Rauner last August and went into effect on January 1, 2017. The Act prohibits the use of non-compete agreements for employees who make less than $13 per hour. The measure was prompted, in large part, by complaints from employees of the sandwich chain Jimmy Johns. Workers at the Illinois-based chain were routinely required to sign non-compete agreements that prevented them from working for another sub shop during their employment with Jimmy Johns—and two more years after that!

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Arlington Heights business law attorneyIn today’s American economy, there is a dramatic difference between unemployment and underemployment. Unemployment, generally speaking, is tracked by government watchdog groups as an indicator of economic growth and usually takes into account those who are not currently working but are looking for jobs. Underemployment, by comparison, is much more difficult to quantify and refers to those who may be working but who are still having trouble making ends meet.

Temporary workers—also known as temps or day laborers—are often considered to be among the underemployed. On any given day, they may have jobs, but those jobs are not guaranteed and can quickly disappear. In an effort to help protect the rights of temp workers, Illinois lawmakers recently passed a measure that requires temp agencies to be more forthcoming about the type of work a temp will be doing and more aggressive about placing temps in permanent positions.

The Role of Temp Agencies

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Illinois business law attorneyWhen you own a small or medium-sized business, you do not always have the money to do all of the things you want to do. Between payroll, utilities, taxes, and honoring contracts with vendors and suppliers, you may not have very much left over—especially if you are a newer company. This can create challenges if you are looking for ways to keep your staff motivated, as you may think that workers respond best to bonuses, gift cards, and other financial incentives. It may come as a surprise to learn that other motivational strategies may be just as effective as money—if not more so—in increasing your employees’ productivity.

Lead From the Front

A popular image that is often shared among managers and team leaders depicts two conflicting leadership styles. The top half of the image shows a “boss” sitting at his desk atop a heavy load directing a team of unhappy people as they drag the load. The bottom half shows the same team and the same load, but this time, the “leader” is at the front of the team, encouraging them and pulling with them. The team is happier and the work is being done more efficiently.

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Arlington Heights business law attorneyA few weeks ago, a post on this blog explored the challenges in making the decision to terminate an employee who is no longer a good fit for your company. That post highlighted the importance of careful record keeping and rational decision-making so that you could protect yourself in the event of possible legal action. The second and final stage of the termination process, however, is the termination itself, and letting an employee go must be done in such a way that both the rights of the employee and your company are protected.

Meet Face to Face

While it may be uncomfortable for you, your employee deserves the courtesy of a face-to-face meeting in most cases. Try to avoid terminating an employee over the phone, through text message, or even via a letter. There may be some exceptions, such as worker with habitual attendance problems, but an in-person meeting is appropriate far more often than not.

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Illinois business attorneysWhen you employ a staff to help you meet the needs of your customers, sooner or later you will have an employee who fails to live up to your expectations. Perhaps he or she has problems with being on time, complying with your company’s dress code, or is simply not productive enough to warrant what you are paying him or her. But, how can you be sure that firing the employee will not blow up in your face, so to speak? There are some steps you can take to help protect yourself and your company from lawsuits and frivolous accusations when you decide to terminate an employee.

The Two Phases

In the movies and on TV, it not uncommon to see a boss fire an employee on the spot for a particularly egregious mistake or outburst. While an immediate firing may be warranted on occasion, most employee terminations occur after an extended decision-making process. Firing an employee, usually, can be broken down into two separate stages—the decision and the termination—and both must be handled properly.

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