The Illinois Chamber of Commerce says reforms to workers’ comp, among other reforms, could help stem mass layoff in the Land of Lincoln.
The Chamber made the plea after the most recent mass layoff report from the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
The Illinois Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN, Act report for January has a dozen businesses reporting more than 1,100 layoffs combined over the next few months.
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Illinois Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Todd Maisch said he can’t speak for each business, but said some mass layoff could be avoided by cutting employer costs from workers’ comp.
“Redefining what a workplace injury truly is will allow legitimately injured workers to get their compensation,” Maisch said, “but those who are not, to stay out of the system and reduce costs.”
Speaker Michael Madigan said there are pending reforms to Illinois’ workers comp, but only focusing on regulating rates, not addressing so-called causation.
Among the announced layoffs are Chicago’s Mondelez International listing consolidation and relocation with 277 affected jobs, Kankakee’s Presence Health listing reorganization with 162 affected jobs, a Walmart in Chicago laying off 53 beginning in April and a Kmart in Canton laying off 36 beginning in April.
Maisch said every business has their reasons for shutting down, relocating or cutting their workforce, but there are things lawmakers can do to help small businesses out, like having pro-investment tax policies.
“Small businesses create the vast majority of new jobs in the state of Illinois and the nation,” Maisch said, “yet there’s really not enough in our tax code that helps them invest and grow their businesses.”
When asked about tax policy Wednesday, Speaker Michael Madigan said he’s hoping to reform taxes to bring about an extra tax on millionaires, but didn’t address any other possible tax reforms.
A spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity said a WARN notice activates the department’s Rapid Response Division that has a team to work with affected employees and connects them with services, training or retraining and transition to other possible new employment.