New Sick Leave Laws to Take Effect July 1

Both the City of Chicago and Cook County have enacted new sick leave ordinances which require employers to provide employees with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year.  The two ordinances mirror each other with the primary difference being the geographic area covered by the laws. Below are key highlights of the new laws:

Which employees are covered?

Employees who work at least two hours in any given two-week period while physically present within the geographic boundaries of the City of Chicago or Cook County AND work at least 80 hours in any location and in any 120-day period are covered. Those two hours of work includes time that you pay the employee while he or she is traveling within the City or County for business purposes.

Who is a covered employer?

An employer who gainfully employs at least one covered employee as described above and has at least one place of business within the City of Chicago or Cook County and is not specifically exempt is a covered employer. An employer with a single place of business within the geographic boundaries of the City/County meets this qualification even if the employer’s corporate headquarters, primary place of business or the majority of its business is located elsewhere. For the City, if you have a Chicago business license you will also be considered a covered employer.


City of Chicago – The City excludes five types of employees from paid sick leave coverage: agricultural employees, outside salespersons, members of religious corporations or organizations, students at an Illinois college or university who are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, and employees of motor carriers.

Cook County – The County excludes government entities and Indian tribes. The ordinance does not affect existing collective bargaining agreements. Once existing agreements expire, employees covered by collective bargaining agreements can waive the requirements in their contracts.              

Both the City and County ordinances exclude construction workers subject to collective bargaining agreements.

Accrual of Sick Time

Paid leave begins to accrue on the first calendar day after the start of employment, or July 1, 2017, whichever is later. Covered employees will accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked.  Employees can accrue only 40 hours per each 12-month period. The ordinance assumes employees who are exempt from overtime work 40 hours per week, unless their normal workweek is shorter.

Employees may be required to wait 180 days following the start of their employment before they are able to use any accrued sick leave.

Leave Usage

The employee may use sick time when the employee or his/her family member is:

  • Ill or injured or is receiving medical care, treatment, diagnosis or preventative medical care
  • The victim of domestic violence or a sex offense (as those terms are defined by state law)
  • Subject to a public health emergency closure related to child’s school or care facility or the employee’s place of work

Family Member Definition

A family member can be an employee’s child, legal guardian or ward, spouse, domestic partner, parent, spouse or domestic partner’s parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, including step and foster relationships, or any other individual related by blood or whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.

Employee Notice of Usage to Employer

If an employee’s need for paid sick leave is reasonably foreseeable (for example, doctor appointments and court dates), an employer may require up to seven days’ notice before paid leave is taken.  Otherwise the employee may give the employer notice for the leave as soon as practicable via phone, email or text message. An employee may be required to provide documentation to support absence of more than three consecutive work days.

Carryover of Hours

Employees can carry over half of their unused paid sick leave, up to a maximum of 20 hours, to the next 12-month period. Additionally, if an employer is covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the employee can carry over the standard 20 hours, plus up to 40 hours of his/her unused sick leave, to use exclusively for FMLA eligible purposes.


Employers must post notice of employee’s rights under the ordinances in a conspicuous place at each facility where a covered employee works that is located in the geographically covered area.  Employees must also provide employees with written notice of their rights advising employees of their earned sick leave rights under the ordinances.


The above provides the most important highlights of the new laws. We recommend that employers carefully review their policies related to paid sick leave to ensure compliance with these new laws.  Should you have any questions, please call us today at (630) 953-4900.