Cook County sick leave ordinance
Effective July 1, 2017, the Cook County “Earned Sick Leave“ Ordinance mandates that employers in Cook County, Illinois, allow eligible employees to accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick leave in each 12-month period of their employment. Individuals are entitled to benefits under the Ordinance if they:
- perform at least two hours of work for a covered employer while physically present within the geographic boundaries of the County in any particular two-week period
- work at least 80 hours for a covered employer in any 120-day period.
Compensated time spent traveling in Cook County, including for deliveries and sales calls and for travel related to other business activity taking place in the County, can count toward the two-hour requirement. However, uncompensated commuting time in the County will not be counted.
Employees may use paid sick leave for their own illness, injuries or medical care (including preventive care) or for the illness, injuries or medical care of certain covered family members. “Family member” is defined broadly to include a child, legal guardian or ward, spouse under the laws of any state, domestic partner, parent, parent of a spouse or domestic partner, sibling, grandparent, grandchild or any other individual related by blood or whose close association with the employee is the equivalent or a family relationship. “Family member” also includes step- and foster relationships. Employees also can use paid sick leave if either the employee or a family member is a victim of domestic violence or a sex offense. Employees are also entitled to use paid sick leave if their place of business or the childcare facility or school of their child has been closed by an order of a public official due to a public health emergency.
Accrual and usage of paid sick leave is capped at 40 hours for each 12-month period unless an employer sets a higher limit. Employees are permitted to carry over half of their unused paid sick leave (up to 20 hours) to the next 12-month period. The Ordinance applies to all employers, regardless of the number of employees.
Note: Some municipalities in Cook County have opted out of these requirements and should confirm with legal counsel whether these requirements apply.
Covered employers should post and provide notices to employees of their rights under this Ordinance when they begin accruing leave and annually and may use the County-provided model notice for this purpose, which is available here:
City of Chicago paid sick leave ordinance
Employers with at least one covered employee, in the city of Chicago must provide eligible employees up to 40 hours of paid sick leave in each 12-month period of their employment. Accrual and usage of paid sick leave is capped at 40 hours for each 12-month period unless an employer sets a higher limit. Employees are permitted to carry over half of their unused paid sick leave (up to 20 hours) to the next 12-month period. Covered employers include individuals and companies that maintain a business facility within the geographic boundaries of the city of Chicago or who are subject to one or more of the city’s licensing requirements. The Ordinance applies to all employers, regardless of the number of employees. The Ordinance explicitly provides that it applies to domestic workers, even those who are employed by employers with fewer than four employees.
Individuals are entitled to benefits under the Ordinance if they meet the following two requirements:
- They perform at least two hours of work for a covered employer while physically present within the geographic boundaries of the city in any particular two-week period.
- They work at least 80 hours for a covered employer in any 120-day period.
Time spent traveling in the City that is compensated time, including making deliveries, making sales calls and travel related to other business activity taking place in the City, can count toward the two-hour requirement. However, uncompensated time spent traveling in the City for purposes of commuting will not be counted in determining whether an employee conducted two hours of work within the City.
Covered employers should post and provide notices to eligible employees of their rights under this Ordinance and may use the City-provided notice for this purpose, which is available here:
In addition, employees must be provided (by either physical or electronic means) with individual notices regarding the Ordinance on an annual basis with their first paycheck of the year on or following July 1. All such notices must be provided in English and any other language spoken by employees of the employing company and for which a notice is available from Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP).
Employers with both tipped and non-tipped employees must keep records identifying whether an employee is tipped, non-tipped or performs duties of both tipped and non-tipped positions.
As of July 1, 2020, the Ordinance provides for the following exceptions from coverage for:
- a member of a religious organization
- certain camp counselors employed at a day camp.
Sick leave to care for relatives
The Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act requires Illinois employers who provide personal sick leave benefits to their employees to allow employees to take such leave for absences due to the illness, injury or medical appointment of the employee’s child, spouse, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent or stepparent. The act defines “personal sick leave benefits” to include time accrued and available to employees to be used for absences related to personal illness, injury or medical appointments. The leave must be granted on the same terms under which the employee is able to use sick leave benefits for his or her own illness or injury, except that employers may restrict employees from using more than half of their yearly sick leave benefits for the care of family members.
Domestic and gender violence victim leave
The Illinois Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) provides an employee, who is a victim of domestic violence or any crime of violence, or who has a family member or household member who is a victim of domestic violence, with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per any 12-month period to address issues arising from domestic or sexual violence for employers with 50 or more employees. VESSA also requires that employers with 15 to 49 employees provide eight weeks. Effective January 1, 2017, employers with one to 14 employees must provide four weeks of unpaid leave under the act. VESSA is enforced by the Illinois Department of Labor. An employee may take VESSA leave for any of the following reasons:
- seek medical attention for or recover from, physical or psychological injuries caused as a result of domestic or sexual violence to the employee or the employee’s family or household member
- obtain victim service for the employee or the employee’s family or household member
- obtain psychological or other counseling for the employee or the employee’s family or household member
- participate in safety planning
- seek legal assistance to ensure the health and safety of the victim, including participating in court proceedings related to the domestic violence.
VESSA was recently amended to extend its protections to victims of gender violence. As such, employers much provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave per year to victims of domestic, sexual or gender violence, or whose family members are victims.
Authorized reasons for leave include:
- receiving medical treatment
- appointments for victim services
- undergoing counseling
- participating in safety planning
- seeking legal assistance.
Employers are required to keep all information received in connection with VESSA request strictly confidential.
Bereavement leave for children
The Illinois Child Bereavement Leave Act provides for at least 10 days of unpaid leave for a worker whose child passes away and six weeks’ leave if a second child dies within a year of the first child. The law applies to companies with 50 or more employees and broadly defines “child” to include an ”employee’s son or daughter who is a biological, adopted or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward or a child of a person standing in loco parentis.”
Employers are required to allow employees time off work in accordance with a jury summons. Furthermore, employers may not deny an employee time off work even if the employee is scheduled to work nights and the jury duty is scheduled during the day.
Illinois employers need not pay their nonexempt employees for days off work for jury duty nor is it required that an employer pay the difference in jury duty pay and their regular pay. Exempt employees must be paid for the day, but employers may deduct the amount received for jury pay.
Organ donor leave
Public employers may be required to allow employees paid leave for blood, bone marrow or organ donations. Generally, employees may request an hour of paid leave for blood donations and up to 30 days leave for bone marrow or organ donation. Such time should not be counted against other available paid leave time. The Illinois Organ Donor Leave Act also provides that an employer shall not retaliate against an employee for requesting or obtaining a leave of absence to donate blood, an organ or bone marrow.
Time off for voting
All employees eligible to vote in general or special elections, including primaries, are entitled to take up to two hours off work during the time the polls are open (6:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.). Employees requesting time off work to vote must make their request prior to Election Day. An employer must pay employees for this time.
An employer is also entitled to set the hours during the day when employees may take time off to vote in order to minimize disruption of the workday.
Example - An employer schedules the time to be taken off work to vote either at the beginning or end of the workday. Such employer may require the employee to produce proof of voting in return for granting the time off.
Individuals who have been employed for at least six months and are working at least one-half of the company’s full-time employee hours, are entitled to up to four hours in a given day and up to a total of eight hours during a single school year, under the School Visitation Rights Act(SVRA), to attend school conferences or classroom activities related to the employee’s child if the activity cannot be scheduled during non-working hours.
An employer is entitled to seven days of advance notice unless it is an emergency, in which case only 24-hour notice is required. The law does not require that employers pay nonexempt employees for time taken off work for school visitations, though it does require a good faith effort to allow employees to make up the time missed during normal working hours. There is an exception where granting such visitation requests would result in more than 5% of the workforce being absent at the same time. Under this circumstance, employers may refuse to grant the time off.
Effective August 1, 2020, the SVRA was amended to cover behavioral or academic meetings and prohibit employers from terminating an employee because of an absence that is due solely to a reason protected the SVRA.
Any elected official of a unit of local government or school district, “on the day and time of an official meeting of the public body” to which he or she has been elected, is entitled to “absent himself from any service or employment” for the period of time in which the official meeting is held plus any necessary travel time under the Illinois Time Off for Official Meetings Act. Employers need not pay a nonexempt employee for any such time off work and employees are required to provide advance notice of any expected or intended absence. Given reasonable notice, employers may not refuse an elected official time off to attend an official meeting or subject an employee to any penalty for exercising this privilege.
Leave for nursing mothers
The Illinois Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act was amended in 2019 and changed the requirement for unpaid break time for nursing mothers to paid break time. Under the amendments nursing mothers must receive paid break time for nursing for up to one year after the birth of the child. These breaks may run concurrently with break time that is already provided to the employee.
It further requires an employer to make reasonable efforts to provide a room or other location, in close proximity to the work area, other than a toilet stall, where the employee can express her milk in privacy.
Employers are required to provide such break time unless it can be proven that doing so would create an undue hardship for the employer.
Chicago vaccine ordinance
Pursuant to Chicago's Vaccine Anti-Retaliation Ordinance, Chicago workers may take time off of work to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The ordinance applies to individuals who perform work for an employer of any size, including work as an employee or as an independent contractor. The ordinance has three key features:
- It prohibits any adverse action against a worker who takes off of work to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
- If an employer requires workers receive the COVID-19 vaccine, then the employer must provide paid leave to workers who get vaccinated during work hours. Employers must provide up to four hours of paid time off per vaccination dose, at the worker’s regular rate of pay. Employers cannot require the worker to use other accrued and available paid time off, including sick leave.
- Workers must otherwise be allowed to use accrued and available paid time off for time spent getting the vaccine. This applies when a worker is voluntarily getting vaccinated.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act
On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which aimed to provide initial relief to small and midsize employers and employees. The act provided paid sick leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and expanded the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to include coverage for emergency family leave under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) for COVID-19 related reasons and creates refundable paid sick and childcare leave credits for eligible businesses.
The act’s effective date was April 1, 2020, with many provisions of the act ending on December 31, 2020.