Source: Illinois Chamber of Commerce
The Illinois employers as represented by the organizations below, and their members in Illinois, have not wavered and are speaking with one voice: Illinois employers cannot afford another minimum wage increase.
Illinois already has a minimum wage higher than all of our neighboring states and we are tied for the sixth highest minimum wage in the country. If Illinois were to pass a $10 minimum wage, that amount would almost double the rate since only 2003. This is far too drastic.
While the national unemployment rate continues to drop, Illinois is easily the highest in the Midwest and fourth highest in the country. Another minimum wage increase will only make hiring entry-level workers more difficult, and keep people who need these jobs, especially young people out of work. The number of teens with a job in Illinois has fallen consistently over the last ten years leaving only about a quarter currently employed. Younger workers in urban areas fare even worse; less than one in ten African American teens in Chicago are employed. Chicago’s Hispanic and Caucasian teens also face difficulty finding work, but they are statistically more than twice as likely as the city’s African American teens to be receiving the experience of a paycheck. The result is a significant number of young people are not gaining the basic and valuable work experience to propel them up the economic ladder in the future.
The National Restaurant Association notes that nine out of ten salaried restaurant workers, including owners and managers, started as hourly workers. Inexperienced employees have the ability to garner the necessary skills to advance and earn higher wages. Another minimum wage increase will deny them those skills and their start on the economic ladder.
A broad coalition of Illinois employers and their associations are unified in opposition to an increase in the minimum wage:
—John Rowe, Sam Scott, Doug Whitley, Co-Chairs, IBIC
Last year, every sector of Illinois’ economy — including technology, hospitality, manufacturing, agriculture, education, health care, engineering, energy, finance and real estate — spoke in one voice through the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition to call on Congress to pass common-sense immigration reform that empowers Illinois’ economic competitiveness.
The U.S. Senate passed an immigration bill with the support of our own Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk. It provides more money for border security, allows immigrants already here to work, expands visa programs and provides an arduous 13-year path to citizenship. Hardly a free ride.
The House will act in its own way as it should, but it needs to act this year. Speaker John Boehner’s recent comments on releasing his immigration blueprint this month, hiring Rebecca Tallent — a longtime immigration adviser to Sen. John McCain — and Mr. Boehner’s public rebuke of tea party-backed opposition all indicate some serious commitment to getting immigration reform done this year.
As business leaders in Illinois, we welcome this move. Illinois is facing tough economic times. With an unemployment rate nearly 2 percent higher than the national average, common-sense immigration reform can help to jump-start our economy and get the state on the path to economic competitiveness.
According to the Bipartisan Policy Center report, immigration reform would create 105,923 jobs in Illinois and boost the state’s economic output by $1.8 billion. Nationally, it would bolster the country’s economic growth by 4.8 percent over the next 20 years and reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion.
More than three out of four patents produced by top American universities in 2011 had an immigrant inventor, including 90 percent of patents from the University of Illinois, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy. Our state’s 31,000 foreign students contributed $869 million to the state’s economy in tuition, fees and living expenses in 2009-10. This is talent America needs to nurture and retain, not expel.
Likewise, undocumented immigrants in Illinois, roughly 5.6 percent of the state’s workforce, contributed $499.2 million in state and local taxes in 2010, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.
The need for common-sense immigration reform not only is a question of economic necessity, it is a question of American values of creating opportunity for oneself and others through hard work, no matter one’s country of origin.
We must find a way to admit both high- and lower-skilled working people we need to drive economic growth. We need doctors, engineers, nurses and scientists. We need agricultural workers and home care workers.
To echo U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue, business leaders representing large corporations and small businesses across Illinois also will do whatever it takes to put immigration reform across the finish line in 2014.
We don’t want Democrats playing games. We don’t want Republicans playing games. We want solutions.
John Rowe is chairman emeritus of Exelon Corp. in Chicago. Samuel C. Scott III is former CEO of Corn Products International Inc. in Westchester and chairman of the Chicago Sister Cities International Program. Doug L. Whitley is president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. All three are co-chairs of the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition.
Illinois Business Immigration Coalition
The deadline for employers to provide current employees with notice of health care coverage options available through the ACA Marketplace is October 1, 2013 – right around the corner.
The DOL has published model notices that employers can use to comply with the notice requirements:
§ Model Notice for employers who offer a health plan to some or all employees
§ Model Notice for employers who do not offer a health plan
On September 11, 2013, the DOL published FAQ’s confirming that there is no penalty tied to the Marketplace Notice requirement. As this particular notice requirement was done as an amendment to the FLSA (instead of as an amendment to HIPAA or ERISA), the FAQ’s should not have been a surprise or considered as a drastic change in position by the Department.
In light of the recently published FAQ’s, some are now advising employers not to publish the notices at all. While there is not a penalty tied to the notice, employers should not forget that they are still legally required. With the DOL increasing its scrutiny of welfare plans (and where such audits often consist of reviews to ensure proper plan documentation and these very type of notices are in place), it is not recommended to blatantly disregard the Marketplace Notice requirement.
Instead, the confirmation of lack of penalty should simply be referred to as a reminder to not spend too much time or analysis on this Notice requirement. In other words, just do your best to comply. In addition, many employers that are getting caught up with the particulars of how to complete part B of the model notice and having difficulty completing it are simply distributing part A of the Notice. There are various considerations to take into account if you are considering this strategy and whether it is best for your company. In that event, you may want to contact counsel for advice on the best options for your situation. Keep in mind that when employers are eventually subjected to penalty exposure in 2015, that penalty exposure will be tied to whether or not a person accesses a subsidy at the Marketplace. Whether a person can access a subsidy is dependent on the price and availability of the employer offering. All of that information is to be included on Part B of the model notice. Thus, without providing that information to an employee, the employee may very likely give inaccurate information at the Marketplace resulting in an inappropriate subsidy award, which in turn increases potential penalty exposure for the employer.
Also, remember that the Notice requirement is not over after you meet your October 1, 2013 distribution date. Employers must also provide new employees with notice of health care coverage options available through the ACA Exchange “at the time of hiring.” For 2014, the DOL will consider an employer to have given notice “at the time of hiring,” if the notice is provided within fourteen (14) days of the new employee’s start date.
For more information as the process unfolds, please join us next month for the latest details:
Affordable Care Act & Your Business
Sponsored by SmithAmundsen LLC
October 17, 8:00 – 10:00 a.m.
Stonebridge Country Club, 2705 Stonebridge Blvd., Aurora
$40 General Admission
$25 Aurora Chamber members
Register at http://tinyurl.com/HR102013
Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce