The year 2014 brings many changes that affect not only the workplace but how you conduct business in Illinois. On July 9th, 2013, Illinois became the last state to allow individuals to carry concealed weapons. Although it became law in 2013, we are just now feeling the effects of its enactment. Over 23,000 people in Illinois have applied for permits, with nearly one quarter of those applicants living in Cook County, while Will and Du Page Counties follow close behind with the most number of applicants. Soon, they will receive their permits and begin to exercise their rights under the law.
What does that mean for you as an employer? What are your rights as a business owner? Under the Act employees and customers can walk into your place of business with a concealed weapon. However there are some steps you can take to protect your employees and customers. First, make sure you have a Concealed Carry Policy that is clearly communicated to all your employees and vendors that states your business is a Gun-free workplace. Employees should all receive this policy then sign and date a form that says they have received and read the policy. This should also be added as a standard policy in your Employee Handbook.
In addition, unless you fall into specified “prohibited” areas, such as schools or places that serve alcohol, you are required to post an official “No Guns” sign. The sign must be conspicuously posted at the entrance of your building, premises or real property (for example, your store front). If you rent office space, you should discuss this with the owner or Management Company of your building. The approved signage is 4 x 6 inches in diameter and has specified color requirements. A template of the sign is available at this link https://ccl4illinois.com/ccw/Public/CCWProhibitedAreaSign.pdf .
Although employers and business owners can prevent firearms from being brought into their place of business through these steps, they cannot control the parking lot or parking structure. Licensed individuals are allowed to store guns in their vehicles even if it is prohibited to bring them into the workplace.
To make your business as safe as possible, follow these steps and make your preferences known to your employees and vendors. If you have any questions or concerns or need assistance in preparing and implementing a Gun-Free Workplace Policy, please contact our office.
Written by: Kerry Rieder-McLaughlin, HR Consultant