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Chicago and Cook County Paid Sick Leave Ordinances Soon in Effect

  • Employment Law
  • Article
  • 6 min. Read
  • Last Updated: 06/23/2017

Chicago and Cook County paid sick leave ordinances
Separate paid sick leave ordinances in Chicago and Cook County become effective July 1, 2017. Go more in-depth with details of each ordinance.

Table of Contents

  • On May 20, 2020, the Chicago City Council approved Substitute Ordinance 2020-2343, which includes amendments to the city's paid sick leave ordinance. Effective July 1, 2020, and as part of the amendments, employers will be required to provide those employees with the paid sick leave notice yearly with the first paycheck on or following July 1st, whether by paper or electronic means

Chicago, the “City of the Big Shoulders,” will require employers to provide paid sick leave for eligible employees starting July 1, 2017 under the Chicago Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Ordinance (MWPSO). Also effective July 1, 2017, is the Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance (ESLO). While Chicago is in Cook County, the Chicago Ordinance will govern for employers located in the city as a result of provisions in the state constitution. Employers located in areas of Cook County outside the city of Chicago would be covered under the Cook County ESLO; however, many of the municipalities within Cook County have lawfully taken advantage of the ability to opt out. Any individual or business entity that employs at least one covered employee will be covered by the applicable ordinance, except where the business lies within a municipality that has opted out.

Both Cook County and the City of Chicago have released final implementing regulations as well as a model notice to meet the posting requirements under the ordinance.

How Do Employees Receive Paid Sick Leave?

Both ordinances offer covered employers the option for providing paid sick leave to eligible employees based on either an accrual system or a more simplified frontloading system.

The accrual option allows employees to accrue paid sick leave based on hours worked in the covered jurisdiction, up to a maximum number of hours per year. This option also incorporates some of the most complex carryover provisions found in any paid sick leave law across the country. The carryover provisions will differ for employees depending on whether they work for an employer covered under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

The frontloading option available in both ordinances allows employees to receive a lump sum of paid sick leave at the beginning of each year. Although the amount of paid sick leave awarded differs under the two ordinances, both eliminate the need to contend with complex carryover provisions.

Notice and Recordkeeping Requirements Under the Two Ordinances

Although employers covered under either ordinance will be required to post a notice in each workplace where a covered worker is employed, other requirements vary under each ordinance. Employers covered under the Chicago ordinance will also be required to keep a copy of the ordinance and the final regulations onsite. Covered employers are also required to keep certain personnel and payroll records as prescribed under the ordinance for a minimum of three years. For additional information you can read, the Final Rules for the Chicago Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Rules.

Employers covered under the Cook County ordinance will be required to provide employees with a written notice regarding their rights under the ordinance with the first paycheck they receive after July 1 or upon hire, and once each calendar year thereafter. Covered employers are also required to keep certain personnel and payroll records as prescribed under the ordinance for a minimum of five years. 

Preparing for July 1, 2017

To better ensure full compliance with either the Chicago or Cook County paid sick leave ordinance, consider these steps:

  • Determine your coverage under the applicable ordinance by reviewing the implementing regulations. Employers in Cook County should take additional steps to confirm coverage at the municipality level.
  • Review your company’s current sick leave policy and decide whether you will make adjustments to meet all the provisions under the applicable ordinance or you will create a new policy to ensure full compliance.
  • If you are creating a new paid sick leave policy, consider the differences between an accrual-based policy and a frontloading policy before moving forward.
  • Be prepared to comply with posting and notice requirements under the applicable ordinance.
  • Consider how you will track and keep appropriate records related to employee paid sick leave including accruals and carryover (where applicable), availability of paid sick leave, and use of paid sick leave.

Paychex offers time and attendance solutions that may assist in your recordkeeping efforts.

Tammy Tyler

Tammy Tyler is an employment law compliance manager at Paychex, Inc., a leading provider of integrated solutions for payroll, HR, retirement, and insurance services.


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* This content is for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice of a qualified attorney or other professional. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments, may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date.

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