Companies with workers in Cook County, Ill., know how cumbersome its ordinances can be when it comes to employment law compliance. Another piece was added to that puzzle last month, when Lincolnwood, Ill., opted into the county’s paid sick leave measure, but decided to remain out of the minimum wage ordinance.
Lincolnwood officials on Jan. 7 voted on the two items. By adopting the county’s Earned Sick Leave law, affected employers will have to display a new poster and notify employees of the change.
Cook County Employment Law
Though the decision from Lincolnwood — a suburb of Chicago with about 12,500 residents — might not impact a large number of employers, it does highlight the complex matrix of Cook County minimum wage and earned sick leave.
There are more than 130 jurisdictions within Cook County, and they can decide whether they want to adhere to the county’s minimum wage and paid sick leave laws.
Though the two Cook County laws are distinct, most cities have chosen to act on both measures simultaneously. And most cities have chosen to opt out of both, with the bulk of those decisions made in 2017. However, there are several exceptions.
The following cities have decided to follow both Cook County’s minimum wage and paid sick leave ordinances:
- Barrington Hills
- Ford Heights
- Homer Glen
- Indian Head Park
- Oak Brook
- Oak Park
- Olympia Fields
- University Park
- Western Springs
Chicago has its own minimum wage and paid sick leave laws.
Cook County Earned Sick Leave
Considering the recent decision from Lincolnwood, we’ll focus on Cook County’s paid sick leave law. (For more information on the minimum wage ordinance, check out a previous GovDocs blog.)
Here’s how it works:
- Employees accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked
- Maximum use of 40 hours per year
- Accrual capped at 40 hours
- Employees can carry over 20 hours (plus 20 more under certain federal Family and Medical Leave Act circumstances)
- Workers can use it on the 180th calendar day after the start of their employment
- Employers can frontload the paid sick leave hours
- Employees generally receive the same rate of pay when taking leave
As with paid sick leave laws across the country, an employee can use the time to care for his- or herself, as well as covered relations. But Cook County also allows the time to be used in case of business closures due to a public health emergency and the closure of a child’s school or daycare.
Lastly, “covered relation” in Cook County is broadly defined, including anyone related by blood as well as people who are “like family.”
Find more information on Cook County Earned Sick Leave ordinance on the county’s website.
Paid Leave Laws Nationwide
Recent surveys of employers often point to paid leave as one of their biggest compliance concerns.
Meanwhile, the rise of paid leave, in its many forms, has become a larger part of the public discussion. That sentiment is reflected in pending legislation at the state and local levels of government. Indeed, as of late January, GovDocs was tracking 176 bills related to employee leave, with another 54 about paid sick leave specifically.
Yet it’s more than paid sick leave that employers have to worry about. Two states, plus a county in New Mexico, have passed laws that allow people to take paid leave for any reason. And late last month, the Vermont Senate passed a paid family and medical leave (PFML) bill. If enacted, the state would join eight others, plus Washington, D.C., with a PFML law on the books.
Additionally, these laws often require further guidance from labor departments, as was recently the case in New Jersey, illustrating the difficulty for employers to remain complaint.
The challenge, of course, is that these laws vary widely by jurisdiction, especially compared with something like minimum wage tracking. Compliance teams will have to be on their toes as additional paid leave laws go into effect.