May 21, 2019

May 21, 2019

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

May 20, 2019

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

Chicago Adopts Paid Sick Leave Following Burgeoning National Trend

Late last month, the Chicago City Council unanimously approved a new paid sick leave ordinance requiring virtually every employer in the city to provide at least some paid time off to employees for sick leave purposes. Cook County’s Board of Commissioners is expected to approve a similar ordinance later this year. Chicago is not setting any trends by doing so — it is only the latest example of a nationwide trend to mandate that employers provide paid time off to employees to care for themselves or their families — a trend certain to continue and expand.

Although there is currently a patchwork of rules and regulations regarding paid sick leave across the country, Chicago’s ordinance is a fair representative of similar requirements in other states and municipalities. The ordinance, which will become effective on July 1, 2017, covers any employee based in and/or working inside Chicago’s city limits who works 80 or more hours within a 120-day period — essentially anyone taking home a paycheck on a regular basis. Employers must provide these workers the right to accrue and use up to five paid sick days (or 40 hours) per year, earned at a minimum rate of one hour for every 40 hours worked.

Further, workers must be allowed to roll over up to two and a half days (20 hours) of unused sick leave into the subsequent year — but employers can cap the total accrual amount at 40 hours, if they desire. Accrual of paid sick leave must begin on an employee’s first day of employment (or July 1, 2017, for existing employees — whichever is later), and accrual and use requirements are then measured from that date going forward. Employers may, however, restrict new employees’ use of paid sick leave until after they complete six full months of continuous employment.

Importantly, the Chicago ordinance does not require that employers create a separate paid sick leave scheme if they already maintain a general undifferentiated Paid Time Off (PTO) policy that meets or exceeds the required accrual rates. For example, if an employer maintains a PTO policy that provides accrual of PTO at a rate of two hours for every 40 hours worked, capping the total number of PTO days at 15, then the PTO policy exceeds the requirements. However, if PTO accrues at a rate slower than one hour for every 40 hours worked, the policy will need to be revised to meet the minimum requirements.

Sick leave may be used by employees to care for themselves or their families when they are sick, to receive medical care, including treatment, diagnosis, or preventive care, and if the employee or family member is the victim of domestic violence or sexual abuse. Employers must also give employees the ability to use their accrued sick time if the employer, or the employee’s children’s schools, are closed because of a public health emergency.

There are additional nuances to the law, some of which vary, depending on a particular workforce, including interplay with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) calculation of sick pay for tipped workers, and waiver of sick leave requirements in a collective bargaining agreement. Also, just as employers with PTO policies will want to ensure theirs is up to snuff in light of these new rules, employers without a PTO policy may want to consider adopting one to simplify their time-off benefit administration. As a result of these and other issues and trends across the country, employers should consult with counsel to ensure they are meeting or exceeding the minimum sick leave requirements in their places of work.

© 2019 Foley & Lardner LLP

TRENDING LEGAL ANALYSIS


About this Author

Bennett L. Epstein, Labor Attorney, Foley Lardner Law Firm
Partner

Bennett L. Epstein is a partner and labor and employment lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP. Since 1978, he has practiced exclusively in the area of labor and employment law and has extensive experience in resolving disputes between executives and their employers, including conflicts concerning age discrimination, written and implied employment contracts, and financial or sexual impropriety. He is an authority on civil rights, downsizing, the Family and Medical Leave Act, Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower claims, union negotiations and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Mr...

312-832-5193
John Litchfield, employment lawyer, labor litigator, Foley Lardner, Chicago Law Firm
Associate

John Litchfield is an associate and litigation attorney with Foley & Lardner LLP. His primary practice includes counseling clients on a wide range of employment-related matters, including disability accommodations, family and medical leave issues, wage and hour compliance, and other state and federal employment laws. Mr. Litchfield also counsels clients on the intricacies of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008. He has represented employers in federal and state litigation matters relating to race and disability discrimination, FMLA claims, and harassment. Mr. Litchfield is a member of the firm’s Labor & Employment and Business Litigation & Dispute Resolution Practices.

312-832-4538
Christopher Ward, Litigation Attorney, Foley Lardner Law Firm
Partner

Christopher Ward is a partner and litigation attorney with Foley & Lardner LLP, where he focuses on representing and counseling employers in all aspects of labor and employment law throughout the country. He is a member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice.

Mr. Ward regularly handles wage and hour matters, including wage and hour class and collective actions under both the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the provisions of the California Labor Code and Business & Professions Code. Mr. Ward routinely counsels clients on wage...

312-832-4364