Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has signed into law the Illinois Freedom to Work Act (Public Act 099-0860). The Act prohibits private sector employers from entering into non-compete restrictions with “low-wage employees” and renders any such agreements “illegal and void.” The Act applies to non-compete agreements entered into on or after the law’s effective date, January 1, 2017.
Under the Act, a “low-wage employee” is any employee who earns the greater of (1) the hourly minimum wage under federal (currently, $7.25 per hour), state (currently, $8.25 per hour), or local law (currently, $10.50 per hour in Chicago) or (2) $13.00 per hour. As a practical matter, until the hourly minimum wage is increased above $13.00 per hour, the law prohibits non-compete agreements with any employee making $13.00 or less per hour.
The Act prohibits an employer from entering into an agreement that restricts the “low-wage employee” from performing:
Unless an employer has workers who are making less than $13.01 per hour and requires them to sign non-competes, the Freedom to Work Act has no impact on its business. In addition, the Act does not affect non-disclosure or other agreements targeted at protecting confidential information.