Final Regulations of Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance Announced

By Kelsey Basten

Published on June 29, 2017

The Commission on Human Rights of Cook County, Ill., released its final regulations of the Earned Sick Leave (ESL) ordinance, which will take effect July 1, 2017.


The ESL ordinance, which passed on Oct. 5, 2016, requires covered employers in Cook County to allow eligible employees to accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per 12-month period of employment.

Final Regulations

The commission agreed on a set of final regulations that differ slightly than the regulations of the first draft. Below are the updates by subject.


  • Clearly define “accrual period” and no longer tie it to the benefits year
  • Clearly define the accrual rules of ESL and how it relates to employees who work for covered employers outside of Cook County
  • Employers may use a payroll system that tracks ESL accrual even though employers don’t need to provide ESL in small intervals
  • Guide process of ESL accrual for employees who receive it annually
  • Remove the details that allow employers to use a standardized accrual period instead of individualizing the period based on employees’ first day of work for covered employers
  • Offer added guidelines for employers who front-load ESL or utilize other accrual methods


  • Provide understanding on how someone with a “close association” to a covered employee may be considered a “family member” as defined by the federal sick leave regulations

Non-traditional Workers:

  • Provide guidance on how ESL applies to employees who are paid on a commission or piecework basis
  • Adjust the rules on telecommuting and eliminate the requirement that the employer handle “significant business” with customers in Cook County through the telecommuting employee

Business Type:

  • Offer direction on when a “residence” is considered a “place of business”
  • State that covered employers can prohibit covered employees from using his or her ESL until 180 days after the start of his or her employment

Employee Rights:

  • Provides detail on situations when Family and Medical Leave Act-eligible covered employees may use up to 60 hours of ESL during each accrual period
  • Explains that a covered employee’s use of ESL for FMLA purposes is in line with his or her use of leave under the FMLA
  • Give employers the right to:
    • Enforce reasonable written notice requirements
    • Require employees to provide reasonable advanced notice of the need to use ESL
    • Discipline employees who misuse their ESL


The ordinance allows cities to opt out of earned sick leave. As of June 28, 2017, the following municipalities have opted out:

  • Alsip
  • Arlington Heights
  • Barrington
  • Bartlett
  • Bedford Park
  • Bellwood
  • Berkeley
  • Bridgeview
  • Buffalo Grove
  • Burbank
  • Burr Ridge
  • Crestwood
  • East Hazel Crest
  • Elgin
  • Elk Grove Village
  • Elmwood Park
  • Evergreen Park
  • Forest Park
  • Glenview
  • Hanover Park
  • Harwood Heights
  • Hickory Hill
  • Hillside
  • Hinsdale
  • Hodgkins
  • Hoffman Estates
  • Homewood
  • Justice
  • La Grange Park
  • Lincolnwood
  • Lynwood
  • Maywood
  • Melrose Park
  • Midlothian
  • Morton Grove
  • Mount Prospect
  • Niles
  • Norridge
  • Northbrook
  • Northlake
  • Oak Forest
  • Oak Lawn
  • Orland Hills
  • Orland Park
  • Palatine
  • Palos Hills
  • Palos Heights
  • Palos Park
  • Prospect Heights
  • River Forest
  • River Grove
  • Riverside
  • Rolling Meadows
  • Rosemont
  • Schaumburg
  • South Barrington
  • South Chicago Heights
  • Streamwood
  • Summit
  • Thornton
  • Tinley Park
  • Western Springs
  • Wheeling
  • Worth
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