Sick leave law changes: An employee benefits trend to watch

Mandatory paid sick leave for employees is gaining steam in numerous states and municipalities. And for Illinois employers, the legal landscape has undergone some recent changes. In August, Illinois governor Bruce Rauner signed into law a bill that allows employees to use sick leave for family illnesses. Under the law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2017, Illinois employers must cover "absences due to an illness, injury, or medical appointment of the employee's child, spouse, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent, for reasonable periods of time as the employee's attendance may be necessary, on the same terms upon which the employee is able to use sick leave benefits for the employee's own illness or injury."

Private employers in the City of Chicago are also subject to new sick leave laws, which go into effect July 1, 2017. Under the ordinance, employees now must be granted up to at least five sick days per year, with the opportunity to roll over 2.5 days.

Chicago isn't the only major U.S. municipality to require minimum sick leave benefits for employees working within the city limits. Both Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota have also gotten into the act.

For affected employers, the sick leave law changes mean higher labor costs. According to the City of Chicago, labor costs are expected to rise between 0.7 and 1.5 percent due to the new ordinance. Affected employers will also have to ensure compliance with the new regulations.

Employers not mandated to give paid sick leave are also affected by the legal landscape. Should they follow suit and offer a similar benefit to avoid falling behind from a competitiveness standpoint? The question might be most pressing for employers in cities where the state doesn't have a sick leave law -- but other cities nearby have begun to enact their own ordinances.

In a changing compliance landscape, your insurance broker can help you navigate the right path. For more information on sick leave law changes and other employee benefits matters, contact a client service team member at 847-307-6100 (Deer Park, Ill.), 312-606-4800 (Chicago), 972-770-5010 (Dallas) or 405-840-3033 (Oklahoma City), or contact us via the web at We're here to help -- and we are happy to help.