Illinois Workers Unaware of New Earned Sick Leave Ordinance

Joseph Patterson | June 29, 2017
The Chicago and Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance is coming soon. Are you prepared? A new study by TSheets found that only 19 percent of respondents knew the sick leave policies were soon rolling out. Both the Chicago and Cook County Ordinances, which go into effect July 1, 2017, will require employers with qualified employees to provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours those employees work. Aside from the ways in which these two policies are calculated to determine the number of employee sick time that is carried over into the next year, the two Ordinances are essentially the same.  

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Attention Chicago and Cook County employers!

In January, many states enacted new sick leave laws, and several more are considering it. Chicago and Cook County employers, in general, should start paying special attention to their sick leave policies now, in order to ensure compliance with new employee sick leave laws.* Beginning July 1, many employers will be required to provide earned sick leave to their employees, as well as notify employees of the changes and their rights as employees. The Ordinance cited several reasons for the change: 40 percent of private-sector workers receive no paid sick leave, and sick leave reduces health care costs and promotes health among families and colleagues. The Ordinance also acknowledges the impact of violence against women on employee health. One in 4 American women report domestic violence and 1 in 5 women have been sexually assaulted. Sick leave, as is stated in the Ordinance, would allow these workers to recover from such incidents and even take preventative measures. In order to take care of diverse medical needs of the workforce, employers are required to allow eligible employees (or those who work at least 80 hours in a 120-day period) to earn and accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick leave each year. But details of the Ordinance vary from place to place. Employers in some jurisdictions will be required to allow sick leave accrual for employees who are not full-time, including temporary and seasonal employees.  

What do businesses need to do to comply?

To avoid problems down the line, employers need to carefully read and abide by the guidelines of your jurisdiction’s new laws and get your employees in the loop, too. Several jurisdictions have opted out of the Ordinance, so stay up to date on the latest news in your area, or check with your local government to confirm if your jurisdiction has opted out of this. Employers affected are allowed some flexibility within the new law. For example, they can decide on and write up their specific rules for employees which detail their sick leave. These rules might include the minimum increment of time in which sick leave can be used, the type and timing of notice required, and how long an employee should work for the company before they can use their leave.  

What should employees keep in mind?

A previous survey by TSheets found that 85 percent of respondents say sick leave is important. Under the Ordinance, employees are eligible to five days of paid sick leave per year, and every employer needs to post a notice of employee’s rights to earned sick leave. Know your rights, and understand that it is prohibited for your employer to retaliate against the Ordinance. If your area is required to comply, your employer should have posted in the workplace a notice of your rights to paid sick leave. You don’t need to find a replacement for your scheduled shift, as the Ordinance disallows the employer from requiring you to find one.  

Track time for earned sick leave

Of course, review your sick leave policies to ensure you are complying, and check your administrative and attendance processes to make sure they’re updated to account for the new Ordinances. You should also track employee hours carefully to ensure they’re accruing their sick leave at an accurate rate. TSheets’ sick leave function automatically tracks and organizes those hours for you to make payroll simple and painless.  

Not in Chicago or Cook County? See new sick leave Ordinance changes in Arizona, Minneapolis and St. Paul, and Georgia.


New to time tracking? TSheets tracks employee hours, sick leave, PTO, and more!

*As always, TSheets does not offer legal or accounting advice for your business. Check with your lawyer and accountant before making policy changes at your company.
A little about Joseph Patterson

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