Cook County and Chicago Now Have Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Ordinances. Is Your Company In Compliance?

On July 1, 2017, new employment ordinances will take effect in Cook County and Chicago creating new sick leave requirements. If your business is located in Chicago, these new requirements will apply to your employees, and they will have a virtually unrestricted right to sick leave, one hour of leave for every 40 hours worked. If you are located in Cook County but outside of Chicago, check with your municipality, as most have opted out of the new rules, 80 out of 131 municipalities as of this writing, with Evanston and Oak Park yet to decide. If your business is covered, significant penalties apply for employers who fail to comply with the new leave requirements.

Covered employers are required to provide up to four days of paid sick leave, regardless of whether workers are full-time, temporary or part-time. An employee may use accrued leave for illness or accident, when a member of their family is ill or injured, for receiving any type of medical care.

An employer can only require documentation verification of illness once the employee has used three consecutive sick leave days. Furthermore, the Ordinance does not require the employee to specific the nature of their or their family member’s illness/injury. Employers can set a minimum sick leave increment of four hours. Employers with 50 or more employees who are subject to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) must allow workers to carry unused sick leave from one annual period to the next for up to maximum of 40 hours.

Failure to comply with the Ordinance can result in fines, payment of wages to the employee, pursuant to a complaint filed with the Cook County’s Commission on Human Rights. Employees can also file suit in the Circuit Court for a violation of the Ordinance recover up to three times value of any sick leave denied, including interest and reasonable attorney’s fees. Thus, an employer who violates the Ordinance may be on the hook for much more than just a fines or wages.

As of July 1, 2017, all employers within Cook County will need to take heed and check if they are covered, and if so, analyze their sick leave policies to ensure they will be in compliance with the new Ordinance. Without doing such, an employer will be left open to the unpleasant surprise of a lawsuit for three times the full amount of any unpaid sick leave plus interest and attorney’s fees.

Should you have any questions regarding this new law, please contact us.

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