April 2024

Prepared and Distributed by The Midwest Hardware Association, Inc.

Illinois Paid Leave Rules Eliminate Vacation Time and PTO for Employees

By Alec Laird, MHA Illinois Lobbyist and Vice President, Government Relations for the Illinois Retail Merchants Association

Illinois’ The Illinois Paid Leave for All Workers Act (820 ILCS 192) (hereinafter the “Act”) went into effect on January 1, 2024. It requires businesses to provide five days of paid leave to employees and the employees may use the leave for any reason.  The Act included a provision that plainly states that an employer who provides any type of paid leave policy that satisfies the minimum amount (5 days) of leave is not required to modify the policy if the policy offers an employee the option, at the employee's discretion, to take paid leave for any reason (Section 20(b)).

Simple in its wording and simple in its enforcement. Businesses that implement a policy, at any time, which provides the requisite time and allows the time off for any reason are not required to modify the policy.

The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) filed rules that go beyond the plain meaning of the act. The rule apply the aforementioned provision only to "pre-existing" policies implemented prior to January 1, 2024. Section 20 (b) does not include limiting language such as “existing” or “pre-existing”. It applies to an employer who provides a paid leave policy. This includes past, present, and future paid leave policies. Additionally, Section 5(c) uses the phrase “adopt or retain” in regards to any paid leave plans. Again, from a statutory construction perspective this applies to current or future plans. The "pre-existing" restriction goes outside the scope of the plain language of the statute.

More concerning is that IDOL's rules eliminate vacation and PTO polices. IDOL's rules require ANY paid leave policy, including but not limited to vacation and PTO policies that are implemented after January 1, 2024 to be subject to the requirements of this Act.

Why does this matter?

Read the full article here.

Governor Signs Bill Barring Sale of Certain Unsafe Lighters

By Misha Lee, MHA Wisconsin Lobbyist

Governor Tony Evers (D-Wisconsin) took action on April 5, 2024, by signing Assembly Bill 917 (AB 917) into law, now known as 2023 Wisconsin Act 271. This legislation prohibits the sale of counterfeit and certain unsafe lighters within the state. The measure was prompted by concerns over the proliferation of knock-off lighters failing to meet the safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Notably, Governor Evers endorsed the bill following a compelling appeal from Jerry Minor, Chief of the Pittsville Fire Department.


Introduced in January of this year by Representative Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville) and Senator Pat Testin (R-Stevens Point), AB 917 garnered bipartisan support, reflecting the Legislature’s commitment to public safety.


Advocates for the legislation, including the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association, Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs Association, and the Wisconsin State Firefighters Association, underscored the inherent dangers posed by counterfeit and non-compliant lighters. These products often lack essential safety features and may malfunction, thus heightening the risk of fires and injuries. Moreover, the proliferation of counterfeit lighters raises concerns about intellectual property infringement on legitimate brands.

Read the full article here.

Biden-Harris Administration Finalizes Rule to Increase Compensation Thresholds for Overtime Eligibility, Expanding Protections for Millions of Workers

Rule ensures salaried workers making less than $58,656 receive fair pay for long hours

WASHINGTON – The Biden-Harris administration today announced a final rule that expands overtime protections for millions of the nation’s lower-paid salaried workers by increasing the salary thresholds required to exempt a salaried bona fide executive, administrative or professional employee from federal overtime pay requirements.


Effective July 1, 2024, the salary threshold will increase to the equivalent of an annual salary of $43,888 and increase to $58,656 on Jan. 1, 2025. The July 1 increase updates the present annual salary threshold of $35,568 based on the methodology used by the prior administration in the 2019 overtime rule update. On Jan. 1, 2025, the rule’s new methodology takes effect, resulting in the additional increase. In addition, the rule will adjust the threshold for highly compensated employees. Starting July 1, 2027, salary thresholds will update every three years, by applying up-to-date wage data to determine new salary levels.

“This rule will restore the promise to workers that if you work more than 40 hours in a week, you should be paid more for that time,” said Acting Secretary Julie Su. “Too often, lower-paid salaried workers are doing the same job as their hourly counterparts but are spending more time away from their families for no additional pay. That is unacceptable. The Biden-Harris administration is following through on our promise to raise the bar for workers who help lay the foundation for our economic prosperity.”

Read the full article here.

Sales Trends December 2023

Here are the most recent Illinois, Minnesota-Dakotas, and Wisconsin hardware store sales trends, gathered from association members using the MHA's monthly accounting services. The figures derived for each region include sales data from the following number of stores:

Illinois - 16 stores

Minn.-Dakotas - 10 stores

Wisconsin - 41 stores