Chicago Paid Sick Leave Expanded, Plus New Wage Theft Law

By Kris Janisch
Published July 26, 2021

Chicago Paid Sick Leave Wage Theft

Passed June 25, the wage theft portions of the updated ordinance are now in effect, with the paid sick leave expansion going into effect Aug. 1, 2021.

Chicago has made changes to a city ordinance, expanding the covered reasons for use under its paid sick leave law, as well as creating the city’s first wage theft law.

Passed June 25, the wage theft portions of the ordinance are now in effect, with the paid sick leave expansion going into effect Aug. 1, 2021.

Paid Sick Leave

The changes to Chicago’s paid sick leave ordinance involve covered reasons for use.

The new reasons include issues related to mental and behavioral issues among an employee or family member, as well as dealing with problems related to substance abuse. Also, the reasons to take paid sick leave to cope with domestic violence or sex offenses were expanded to cover stalking, aggravated stalking and cyberstalking.

Lastly, starting Aug. 1, 2021, employees can use leave because of a business or school closure due to a public health emergency like COVID-19. It also includes employees under quarantine or if they need to receive treatment.

Family Matters Infographic Covered RelationsAs a reminder for employers, here are a few of the items of note regarding paid sick leave in Chicago:

  • Employees accrue one hour of leave for every 40 hours worked
  • Employees can use a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick leave per year
  • Employees may begin using paid sick leave the 180th calendar day after the start of their employment
  • Frontloading is allowed
  • Covered relations include those who are “like family”

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Wage Theft

Under the new wage theft law, Chicago employers can be found in violation for:

  • Failing to pay an employee in a timely manner
  • Not paying an employee for work performed
  • Non-payment of paid time off
  • Non-payment of contractually required benefits

Employees can file wage theft claims with the Office of Labor Standards or via civil action, but not both.

Meanwhile, violating employers are liable for the amount of any underpayments and also damages of either:

  • 2 percent of the amount of any underpayments for each month following the date of payment during which underpayments remain unpaid; or
  • The amount specified by the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act if the amount under state law is greater

Also, employers should note that the city’s related labor law posting has been updated with information about wage theft.


The ordinance updates in Chicago reflect the everchanging nature of employment law.

Even after the July 1 minimum wage increases and other planned laws that take effect on more regular intervals, employers must continually keep an eye on tweaks to existing laws and new legislation.

Employers should examine their policies to align with the new covered reasons for use under Chicago’s paid sick leave law, as well as ensuring they will not run afoul of the new wage theft provision

This Employment Law News blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

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