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June 28, 2017

New Illinois Employee Sick Leave Laws

By: Robert G. Swenson, CPA, MST

The Chicago Paid Sick Leave Ordinance and the Cook County Earned Paid Sick Leave Ordinance both take effect on July 1, 2017. All employers in and around the Chicago-area, regardless of number of employees, are required to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave for every 12-month period of employment for covered employees. The Chicago ordinance covers all employers that maintain a business facility within the geographic boundaries of Chicago and/or are subject to one or more of the City’s licensing requirements. Individual municipalities in Cook County can opt out of the ordinance and many have done so at this point.

Covered employees under the Chicago ordinance are defined as an employee who works at least 80 hours within any 120-day period. Covered employees under the Cook County ordinance have a lower threshold, at least 2 hours of work in any 2-week period. This includes domestic employees, day laborers, tipped workers and home health care workers. 

Beginning on July 1, 2017, under the Chicago and Cook County ordinances, a covered employee may accrue paid sick leave at a rate of one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, and can begin to use this accrued sick leave time 180 days after the start of employment. Employees will also have the ability to carry over unused paid sick leave for use during the next 12-month period. Salaried employees who are exempt from overtime requirements shall accrue one hour of paid sick leave for each week of employment. Paid sick leave may be used for the illness or injury of a covered employee or a covered employee’s family member, and when the employee or a family member is a victim of domestic violence.

Employers that have paid time off (“PTO”) policies giving employees leave in an amount and in a manner that satisfy the requirements of the new paid sick leave laws are not required to provide additional paid leave. Existing PTO policies that do not meet the requirements of the new ordinances must be modified to comply.

In light of these new developments, Illinois employers should review and, if necessary, update their policies in order to comply with the applicable laws. The official notice for Chicago can be found here, Paid Sick Leave Notice, and the Cook County Notice, Model Earned Sick Leave Notice for Employees - Workplace Poster.