HR Alert

Reminder: Cook County (Illinois) Paid Sick Leave Ordinance Effective July 1, 2017

Ordinance Creates New Requirements for Employers

A Cook County ordinance, effective July 1, 2017, provides for earned ("paid") sick leave for covered employees who work at least 80 hours within any 120-day period for an employer with a place of business within Cook County. Highlights of the ordinance are presented below.


Paid sick leave begins to accrue either on the first calendar day after the commencement of a covered employee's (Sect. 42-2) employment or on July 1, 2017, whichever is later. For every 40 hours worked after a covered employee's paid sick leave begins to accrue, he or she accrues one hour of paid sick leave. Paid sick leave accrues only in hourly increments-there are no fractional accruals. Click here (Sect. 42-3(b)(4)-(5)) for more information regarding caps and carryover of paid sick leave.


A covered employee may use paid sick leave when (among other things): he or she is ill or injured, or for the purpose of receiving medical care, treatment, diagnosis, or preventative medical care; or a member of his or her family is ill or injured, or to care for a family member receiving medical care, treatment, diagnosis, or preventative medical care. The ordinance also grants paid leave under certain circumstances involving public health emergencies and grants paid leave for certain instances of domestic violence, sexual violence, or stalking (as defined under state law).

An employer must allow a covered employee to begin using paid sick leave no later than the 180th calendar day following the commencement of his or her employment. A covered employee is entitled to use no more than 40 hours of paid sick leave per 12-month period, unless his or her employer sets a higher limit.


Employer PTO Policies

If an employer has a policy that grants covered employees paid time off in an amount and a manner that meets the requirements for paid sick leave under the ordinance, the employer is not required to provide additional paid leave. If such employer's policy awards the full complement of paid time off immediately upon the date of eligibility (rather than using an accrual model), the employer must award each covered employee 40 hours of paid time off within one calendar year of his or her date of eligibility.

Compensation of Leave and Payout of Unused Paid Sick Leave

Paid sick leave used pursuant to the ordinance must be compensated at the same rate and with the same benefits--including health care benefits--that the covered employee regularly earns during hours worked.

Unless an applicable collective bargaining agreement provides otherwise, upon a covered employee's termination, resignation, retirement, or other separation from employment, his or her employer is not required to provide financial or other reimbursement for unused paid sick leave.

Note: Under state law, an employee is not entitled to sick pay upon separation unless the employer has promised the pay in an employment contract or other agreement.

Employer Posting and Notice

Employers generally must post in a conspicuous place at each facility where any covered employee works (that is located within the geographic boundaries of Cook County) a notice advising covered employees of their rights under the ordinance.

Employers must also give covered employees a written notice at the commencement of employment, advising covered employees of their rights to paid sick time under the ordinance.

Additional requirements and details are contained in the text of the ordinance.

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