Paid Sick Leave Ordinance Expanded to All of Cook County
Effective July 1, 2017, up to 900,000 employees in Chicago and Cook County will be eligible for paid sick leave.
On October 5, 2016, the Cook County Board of Commissioners enacted the “Earned Sick Leave Ordinance,” which is substantially the same as the Chicago Ordinance passed earlier this year. Both Ordinances require employers who have one employee who works at least 80 hours in any 120-day period and maintains a business facility within Cook County to provide at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours per 12-month period.
Employers in Chicago and Cook County should review and update their sick leave policies in preparation for the July 1, 2017 deadline. Taking prompt action prior to the deadline is very important given that the Ordinances put many new burdens on employers, including notice of the new sick leave benefits and when and how the leave can be used.
Because the ordinances provide for damages of three times the amount of any unpaid sick time as well as costs and attorneys' fees, the plaintiffs’ bar will be actively looking for violators, particularly employers with numerous employees, which will further subject the employers to potential class action lawsuits.
To avoid future lawsuits, employers should prepare now, including reviewing sick leave or paid time off policies, ensuring mechanisms are in place to track employee leave accrued and used, and updating employee handbooks.