Chicago City Council Unanimously Approves Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

WaiterThe paid sick leave ordinance approved by the Chicago City Council on June 22, 2016 applies to practically all employers and full-time employees in the city. The ordinance becomes effective on July 1, 2017 and covers employees based in and/or working inside the Chicago city limits. To qualify, employees must work 80 or more hours within a 120-day period. That is practically any person working full-time in the city. The ordinance mandates employers allow employees to accumulate and use up to five paid sick days (or 40 hours) each year. The paid sick time is to be earned at a minimum rate of one hour for every 40 hours the employee works during the year.

Additionally, employees will be able to roll over as many as 20 hours of unused sick leave time from one year to the next. The new ordinance does allow employers to cap the total amount of sick leave time employees can accumulate at 40 hours. Employees begin accumulating the sick leave time on July 1, 2017 or their first day of work with the company if they are hired after July 1. The ordinance allows employers to restrict the use of sick days by new employees until after they have completed six months of continuous employment with the company.

Not everyone is happy about the new ordinance

The sick leave ordinance was the result of a task force effort that included input from employers. It follows a national trend of requiring employers to allow their workers time off to care for themselves or family. Chicago’s new ordinance is similar to the requirements already established in other states and municipalities, but not all people are pleased with the new law. Construction workers were excluded because they typically work for several employers in the same year. Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and Illinois Retail Merchants Association expressed concern that the new requirement will increase costs for employers when they are already being hit with higher property taxes and a higher minimum wage.

Additional nuances for some workers

There may be a waiver of sick leave requirements in some collective bargaining agreements. How sick pay is accumulated for people who work on tips and factors like the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) also make a difference. Workers should consult with a Chicago workers comp attorney to ensure their employer is compliant.