Paid Sick Leave for Chicago & Cook County Employees

The City of Chicago passed an ordinance that Starting July 1, 2017, Chicago employees will be protected by the Paid Sick Leave Ordinance, which provides Chicago employees with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year.

The Ordinance applies to all employers who (1) employ least one eligible employee (those who work in Chicago for at least 80 hours in any 120-day period), and (2) maintain a business facility within Chicago and/or are subject to one or more of the license requirements in Title 4 of the Chicago Municipal Code. However, construction industry employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement are exempt.

Employers must allow covered employees to accrue at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours of work, up to a maximum of 40 hours per 12-month period. However, employers may choose to set a higher limit for the maximum hours employees can accrue and use. Further, employees can carry over up to half of their accrued, unused paid sick leave, up to a maximum of 20 hours, to the next year.

Employees can use paid sick leave: (1) if he/she or or a family member has an illness or injury or for medical care; (2) if he/she or a family member requires absence related to his/her status as a victim of domestic violence; or (3) if there is a closure of the employee’s place of business or the employee’s child’s school or place of care by order of a public official due to a public health emergency.

Covered employers will be required to post a notice advising employees of their paid sick leave rights in a conspicuous place at any workplace facility located within Chicago. The Ordinance also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising or attempting to exercise paid sick leave rights as well as from discriminating against employees for using paid sick leave benefits.

Shortly thereafter, the Cook County Board passed a mandate mirroring the Chicago Paid Sick Leave Ordinance, requiring employers provide employees with paid sick time off from work to care for him or herself, a family member becomes ill, or in the event of domestic violence or the closing of a school or business due to a public health emergency. This ordinance extends sick pay to Cook County workers outside of Chicago city limits and applies to anyone who works at least 80 hours for any size employer within any four-month period. As with the Chicago Ordinance, the County Ordinance goes into effect July 1, and provides employees with one hour of paid sick time for every 40 hours worked. Employees can accrue a maximum of one week of paid sick time per year, unless the employer voluntarily offers more. Unfortunately, the Cook County Ordinance does not apply to construction workers or unionized employees.