Chicago and Cook County employers face new sick leave regulations beginning July 1

Beginning Saturday, July 1, 2017, nearly all employers in Chicago and Cook County, Illinois must provide paid sick leave to employees. Below is an outline of the new sick leave ordinances about to take effect in Cook County and Chicago. Steep penalties wait for non-compliance, and human resource professionals and other corporate employee benefits staff are reminded to update employee-leave policies, employee handbooks, payroll practices and employee notices. Chicago Sick Leave Changes: FAQs

Q: To which employers and employees does this apply? 

A: Applicable employers are 1) individuals and companies maintaining a business facility within the geographic boundaries of Chicago or 2) subject to one or more of Chicago’s licensing requirements.

Eligible employees are those who work two hours physically present within the geographical boundaries of Chicago in any two-week period and who work at least 80 hours within any 120-day period.

Q: What notices must employers post and distribute? 

A: Applicable employers must post two required notices (found here and here) in a conspicuous place at each facility where any covered employee works located within the geographic boundaries of Chicago. The notices explain the current Chicago minimum wage and an employee's rights under the law, including the right to paid sick leave.

Employers must also distribute the two required notices (found here and here) to covered employees with their first paycheck on or after July 1, 2017.

Q: What rules govern sick leave accrual for employees?

A: Eligible employees must have the ability to accrue sick leave at a rate of one hour per every 40 hours worked, until they reach the cap of 40 hours per year. (Only hours worked within the City of Chicago count toward accrual.)

Employees may begin to use paid sick time until the 180th day of employment, but begin accruing sick leave at the commencement of employment. Employees can carry over up to 20 hours of accrued paid sick time. Additionally, if an employer is subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the eligible employee may carry over up to an additional 40 hours into the following year for FMLA purposes only.

Cook County Sick Leave Changes: FAQs

Q: To which employers and employees does this apply? 

A: Applicable employers are employers who have at least one place of business within Cook County and at least one covered employee, unless the location where the employee(s) work has lawfully opted out.

Covered employees are employees who work at least 80 hours within a 120-day period and two hours in Cook County within any two-week period.

Q: What notices must employers post and distribute?

A: Applicable employers must post a notice explaining eligible employees’ rights under the ordinance. Cook County locations only need to post this notice. (Downloaded the notice via this link; it is on the lower right side of the page.)

Additionally, employers must also distribute the notice to covered employees no later than July 1, 2017 and to every new employee at commencement of employment.

Q: What rules govern sick leave accrual for employees?

A: Employees will have the ability to accrue sick leave at a rate of one hour per every 40 hours worked, until they reach the cap of 40 hours per year.

Employees begin accruing sick leave at the commencement of employment but aren’t entitled to use paid sick time until the 180th day of employment. Employees can carry over up to 20 hours of accrued paid sick time. Additionally, if the employer is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the employee may carry over up to an additional 40 hours into the following year for FMLA purposes only.

Q: What can sick leave be used for in Cook County?

A: Employees can use sick leave for the following:

-- An employee’s own or family member’s illnesses, injuries, or medical care (including preventive care).

-- Activities related to the employee or a family member being a victim of domestic violence or a sex offense.

-- When a public official closes a place of business or child care facility or school due to a public health emergency.

Q: Which municipalities have opted out of the Cook County requirements? A: The following municipalities have opted out of the ordinance: Arlington Heights, Barrington, Bartlett, Bedford Park, Berkeley, Buffalo Grove, Burr Ridge, Elk Grove, Elmwood Park, Evergreen Park, Hanover Park, Harwood Heights, Hickory Hill, Hoffman Estates, Lynwood, Mount Prospect, Niles, Norridge, Northbrook, Oak Forest, Oak Lawn, Palatine, Palos Heights, Palos Park, River Forest, Riverside, Rolling Meadows, Rosemont, Schaumburg, South Barrington, Streamwood, Summit, Tinley Park, Western Springs, Wheeling.

Let Plexus lend a hand

Have questions about the soon-implemented sick leave changes? Contact a Plexus employee benefits client service team member in Deer Park, Ill. (847-307-6100) or Chicago (312-606-4800), or reach out to us via the Web. We're here to help -- and we're happy to help.