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Time to Get Ill: Illinois Employees Gain Additional Sick Leave Protections in 2017

By Scott M. Gilbert

With the New Year just weeks away, employers with Illinois employees should be aware of several new statutory sick leave provisions that will go into effect in 2017. Specifically, Chicago, Cook County (which encompasses Chicago and many of its surrounding suburbs), and the State of Illinois have each provided employees with various sick leave protections scheduled to go into effect:

Chicago – The Chicago Minimum Wage Ordinance was amended to provide eligible employees up to 40 hours of paid sick leave during each 12-month period. 

  •  The eligibility threshold is relatively low: an employee need only (a) perform 2 hours of compensable work within the City of Chicago, and (b) work at least 80 hours for a covered employer within any 120-day period. 
  • To qualify as a “covered employer”, an entity must maintain a business facility within the City limits or be subject to any of the City’s licensing requirements. There is no minimum employee threshold. 
  • The leave provided is not in addition to any leave already provided by an employer, but any plan already in place must meet the Ordinance’s minimum requirements. 
  • Qualifying employees accrue one hour of leave for every 40 hours worked, up to the 40 hours during each 12-month period. 
  • The amendment goes into effect on July 1, 2017, and can be found here.

Cook County – The Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance also goes into effect on July 1, 2017, and largely mirror’s Chicago’s ordinance. 

  • A covered employee is anyone who, in any particular two-week period, performs at least two hours of work for an employer while physically present within the geographic boundaries of Cook County. Because Cook County encompasses the suburbs surrounding Chicago, a significant number of additional employees will qualify for the benefit. 
  • As with the Chicago Ordinance, employees can carry over 20 hours of accrued, but unused sick leave into the following year; provided, however, that if the employer is subject to the federal Family Medical Leave Act, the carryover limit is raised to 40 hours. 
  • The Cook County Ordinance can be found here.

Illinois – The Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act does not establish a minimum sick leave benefit; rather, it allows employees to use accrued sick leave to care for a family member. 

  • An employee may use up to half of the employee’s accrued sick leave for absences related to the illness, injury, or medical appointments of a family member. The term “family member” is defined to include the employee’s child, spouse, domestic partner, sibling, parent, mother or father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent. 
  • The statute becomes effective on January 1, 2017, and can be found here.

There are various exceptions and qualifications applicable to each provision. Employers should evaluate their coverage under each if they maintain employees and facilities in any of these locations.