Illinois - Cook County Paid Sick Leave Ordinance Update

On October 5, 2016, the Cook County Board of Commissioners approved an ordinance that will require employers in the county to provide employees with up to five days of paid sick leave each year. The requirement, which goes into effect on July 1, 2017, does not apply to federal, state, and local government employers.

The Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance (File No. 16-4229) mandates that any employer with a principal place of business or doing business in Cook County must provide employees who have worked at least 80 hours in a 120-day period with paid sick leave of up to 40 hours in a 12-month period. Employees will earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Employees will be able to use accrued paid sick leave no later than 180 days following commencement of employment. Employees may carry over half of their unused earned sick leave of up to 20 hours to the following 12-month period.

Paid sick leave may be used when:

  • The employee is ill or injured, or for the purpose of receiving medical care, treatment, diagnosis, or preventative medical care.
  • A member of the employee’s family is ill or injured, or to care for a family member receiving medical care, treatment, diagnosis, or preventative medical care.
  • The employee or a member of the employee’s family is the victim of domestic violence, sexual violence, or stalking.
  • The employee’s place of business is closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency, or the employee needs to care for a child whose school or place of care has been closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency.

Employees may not be required to search for or find a replacement to cover the hours during which they are on earned sick leave.

Where the need for earned sick leave is reasonably foreseeable, employers may require up to seven days’ notice before leave is taken. If the need for leave is not reasonably foreseeable, employers may require employees to give notice as soon as is practicable on the day the employee intends to take earned sick leave by notifying the employer by telephone, email, or text message. Employers are permitted to set a notification policy provided the employer has notified employees in writing of the policy and that the policy is not unreasonably burdensome.

Any notice requirement imposed by an employer under the ordinance’s requirements must be waived where the employee is unable to give notice because he or she is unconscious or otherwise medically incapacitated. If the leave is one that is covered under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), notice must be in accordance with the FMLA.

When an employee is absent for more than three consecutive work days, employers may require certification that the use of earned sick leave was authorized as specified in the ordinance.

Employees may file a civil action without first filing an administrative complaint to recover damages equal to three times the full amount of any unpaid sick leave denied or lost by reason of a violation. In addition, the interest on that amount calculated at the prevailing rate, together with costs and reasonable attorney’s fees. There is a three-year statute of limitations.

The ordinance does not apply to employees working in the construction industry who are covered by a bona fide collective-bargaining agreement (CBA). The ordinance also does not apply to bona fide CBAs in force on July 1, 2017. Provisions under the ordinance may be waived in bona fide CBAs, provided the waiver is set forth explicitly in the agreement in clear and unambiguous terms.

The ordinance also contains anti-retaliation and posting requirements. Read the Ordinance Here.

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