On August 25, 2014, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed Senate Bill 3551 (“SB 3551”) amending the Illinois Migrant Labor Camp Law (“IMLCL”).  

IMLCL sets forth the licensing requirements for “Migrant Labor Camps,” defined as: 

one or more buildings, structures, tents, trailers or vehicles or any combination thereof together with the land appertaining thereto established, operated or maintained as living quarters for ten or more migrant workers or four or more families containing migrant workers who are engaged in agricultural activities.”  The statute defines a “migrant worker” as anyone “who moves seasonally from one place to another, within or without the State, for the purpose of employment in agricultural activities,” including “planting, raising or harvesting of any agricultural or horticultural commodities, including the related handling, packing and processing upon the farm where produced or at the point of first processing.  

IMLCL also authorizes the Illinois Department of Public Health (“Department”) to develop and enforce rules on camp conditions, the violation of which could subject the establishment to a combination of administrative fines and/or license suspension or revocation.  Although not subject to the licensing requirement, establishments that provide housing for fewer than 10 migrant workers or fewer than four families containing migrant workers must still meet the minimum standards established by the Department or face administrative fines.  

Although SB 3551 makes several amendments to IMLCL, certain amendments are especially noteworthy.  IMLCL now provides that the Department must promptly issue licenses upon application and compliance with all applicable requirements, as opposed to issuing licenses only on a fixed calendar basis.  In addition, establishments seeking a license must submit their applications to the Department at least 10 business days before occupancy and use of the camp will commence.  Previously, IMLCL required this application within 60 calendar days before occupancy and use.  IMLCL also now provides that the establishment seeking a license must be ready for inspection at least five business days before occupancy and use, as opposed to 30 calendar days under the earlier version of the law. 

Importantly, IMLCL now defines each day an establishment operates in violation of Department rules as a separate violation.  As amended, IMLCL provides two categories of administrative fines: Type A and Type B.  Although the Department will define what types of conduct constitute Type A and Type B violations, the amendment explains that Type B violations “include those violations that may lead to serious injury or death of employees or the general public.”  The fine for Type A violations is $25 per day and the fine for Type B violations is $100 per day.  IMLCL provides that a Type A violation must be cured immediately, unless the Department allows for additional time to remedy the violation, but not to exceed three days.  The amendment states that the Department must take immediate action to end Type B violations, including closure of the establishment.  Further, “[a]ny person who commits a Type B violation shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor for which the circuit court may impose a fine of $250 per violation, with each day constituting a separate violation.” 

The amendments to IMLCL are effective immediately.  Therefore, those operating or planning to operate an establishment covered by the statute are advised to take note of the new timeframes for seeking a license from the Department and to remain mindful of the increased exposure to administrative fines for non-compliance in addition to license suspension or revocation. 

For the Illinois Governor’s Office Press Release discussing this amendment, please click here.