Paid Sick Leave Required for Chicago Employers

Effective July 1, 2017 employers with one or more employee working in Chicago will be required to provide their “covered” employees with paid sick leave.

The new ordinance applies to all businesses with one or more “covered” employee in Chicago who have a business facility within the city or who are subject to any of Chicago’s license requirements.

Employees are covered by the ordinance if they work at least two hours in Chicago in any two-week period. Both part time and full time employees are covered as long as they work at least 80 hours in any 120-day period.

Union employees in the construction industry are not covered by the Ordinance. For any other union employees at the time the ordinance becomes effective (July 1st), their existing collective bargaining agreement will not be changed.

Covered employees must accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Employers are permitted to limit the total annual accrual to 40 hours in a 12 month period. Accrual must begin on the first calendar day following the start of employment or on July 1,2017, whichever occurs later. Employers are not permitted to use a different 12 month period for accrual such as a calendar year or the company’s fiscal year.

At the end of the employee’s 12 month period they may carry over half of their unused sick time to the next 12-month period, up to a maximum of 20 hours.

Employers subject to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), must allow employees to carry over up to an additional 40 hours of unused sick leave (bringing the total carry over to a maximum 60 hours). The additional 40 hours carried over can only be used for FMLA-qualified purposes.

Employers also have the option to give employees the entire 40 hours of sick leave up front upon eligibility rather than using an accrual method.

Covered employees can use paid sick leave for one of the following reasons:

  1. Illness or injury of the employee or a family member of the employee. This includes medical treatment and preventive care;
  2. The employee or a family member of the employee is a victim of domestic violence or a sexual offense;
  3. A public health emergency closes the place of business or the school of the employee’s child.

A family member is defined in the ordinance to mean the employee’s child (biological, adopted, step, foster or a child for whom the employee stands in loco parentis), legal guardian or ward, spouse, domestic partner, parent (biological, adoptive, step, foster, or person who stood in loco parentis when the employee was a minor), spouse or domestic partner’s parent, sibling, grandparents, grandchild or any other person related by blood or whose close association with the employee creates a family relationship.

When a covered employee takes paid sick leave it is the employer’s responsibility to find coverage for the employee. The employee cannot be required to find their own replacement.

When an employee knows in advance of the need to take sick leave they should provide the employer with at least 7 days advance notice.

An employer can only request certification that the paid leave was for a reason covered by the ordinance if the employee misses three or more consecutive days of work. Certification from a health care professional generally is sufficient – the employer should not specifically ask for the nature of the illness or injury except when required to do so by law.

An employer cannot delay the payment of earned sick leave to an employee pending certification.  However, if an employee takes sick leave for a reason other than what is covered by the ordinance the employer can take disciplinary action against the employee, up to and including termination.

All employers are required to post a notice advising employees of their right to paid sick leave. In addition, all employees must be provided a notice of their rights to paid sick leave with their first payroll check.

Employers who already have a paid time off policy in place that meets all of the requirements of the paid sick leave ordinance are not required to provide additional sick leave to their employees.