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It’s Go Time: Chicago and Cook County Paid Sick Leave Ordinances Come into Effect this Weekend

Labor & Employment Publications

As we have previously reported, the Cook County (the “County”) and Chicago paid sick leave ordinances will go into effect on July 1, 2017. As of this week, both entities have now issued final regulations, which provide clarification of some of the obligations under the respective ordinances. Here, we provide a brief reminder of the key requirements of the ordinances.

The Basics of the Ordinances

  • Employees must be allowed to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours per year for the purposes set forth in the ordinances.
  • Employees must be allowed to use at least 40 hours of paid sick leave per year. If employees have carried over hours from the prior year to use for purposes covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), they must be allowed to use an additional 20 hours per year for FMLA purposes.
  • Employees must be allowed to carry over at least half of their accrued leave from year-to-year, up to a maximum of 20 hours. If an employer is covered by the FMLA, then those employees may carry over up to an additional 40 hours to use for FMLA purposes only. In lieu of carrying over accrued but unused time, employers may provide employees with their full complement of paid sick leave at the beginning of each benefit year. 
  • As discussed in more detail here, employers must develop and disseminate written policies. If they do not, employers may not be able to enforce certain parameters set forth in the ordinances. For instance, the County’s regulations state that if an employer does not disseminate a written policy to employees regarding the notification required to take paid sick leave, the County will assume that employees can take paid sick leave without providing any prior notice and without suffering any discipline as a result.
  • Employers are required to post a notice advising employees of their rights under the ordinances in a conspicuous location at each facility where covered employees work. Both Chicago and the County have published model postings. Employers are also required to provide employees with notice of their rights under the ordinances upon eligibility. In Chicago, this notice is required to be included with employees’ first paycheck after July 1. In the County, employees must receive notice at least once per calendar after the initial notice.
  • The ordinances do not apply to school districts.
  • The ordinances do not apply to employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement entered into before July 1, 2017. For labor agreements entered into after that date, the employer and union may agree to waive the requirements of the ordinances so long as the waiver is explicitly stated in the bargaining agreement.

Cook County: The Donut Holes that Swallowed the Donut

The big story with the County Ordinance is that more than half of all the municipalities in the County have opted out, meaning that employers located in those municipalities need not comply with the County Ordinance. If, however, an employer located in a municipality that has opted out assigns an employee to work in a municipality that has not opted out (for instance, on a worksite), the employee will accrue paid sick leave for that time. A list of the municipalities that have opted out is as follows (please let us know if you know of any that are not on this list): Alsip, Arlington Heights, Bartlett, Barrington, Bedford Park, Bellwood, Berkeley, Bridgeview, Buffalo Grove, Burbank, Burr Ridge, Chicago Heights, Chicago Ridge, Crestwood, Des Plaines, East Hazel Crest, Elgin, Elk Grove Village, Elmwood Park, Evergreen Park, Forest Park, Franklin Park, Glenview, Hanover Park, Harwood Heights, Hickory Hills, Hillside, Hinsdale, Hodgkins, Hoffman Estates, Homewood, Inverness, Justice, La Grange, La Grange Park, Lansing, Lincolnwood, Lynwood, Maywood, Melrose Park, Midlothian, Morton Grove, Mt. Prospect, Niles, Norridge, North Riverside, Northbrook, Northlake, Oak Forest, Oak Lawn, Orland Hills, Orland Park, Palatine, Palos Heights, Palos Hills, Palos Park, Prospect Heights, River Forest, River Grove, Riverside, Rolling Meadows, Rosemont, Schaumburg, Schiller Park, South Barrington, South Chicago Heights, South Holland, Stickney, Steger, Streamwood, Summit, Thornton, Tinley Park, Western Springs, Wheeling, Wilmette, and Worth. The Upshot

The requirements of both ordinances are complex and nuanced and require more explanation than what we can reasonably include in this e-bulletin. We therefore strongly recommend that employers work with employment counsel to ensure they are in compliance. If your business is in suburban Cook County, however, check the list of opt-outs first, as your municipality may be one of the “donut holes.”

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