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New Chicago Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

April 24, 2017

On July 1, 2017, the Chicago Paid Sick Leave Ordinance will go into effect requiring covered employers to provide 40 hours of paid sick leave in each 12-month period of employment for covered employees that work in Chicago. Employers should review current sick leave policies now to ensure compliance before July 1, 2017.

Who is subject to the Ordinance?

Employers. The Ordinance applies to all employers who employ at least one covered employee and either maintain a business facility within the geographic boundaries of Chicago or are subject to one or more of Chicago’s licensing requirements.

Employees. An employee is entitled to benefits under the Ordinance if: (1) he or she performs at least two hours of work for a covered employer while physically present within the geographic boundaries of Chicago and (2) he or she works at least 80 hours for a covered employer within any 120-day period.

Time spent by an employee traveling in Chicago that is compensated time shall constitute work under the Ordinance. This includes making deliveries, sales calls, and travel time related to other business activity within Chicago. However, time spent traveling in Chicago that is uncompensated commuting time shall not constitute work under the Ordinance.

Workers subject to a bona fide collective bargaining agreement are exempt from the Ordinance.

How does the Ordinance work?

Accrual. Employees begin to accrue paid sick leave either on the first calendar day after the commencement of employment or on July 1, 2017, whichever is later. Employees accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Fractional accruals are prohibited. Employees exempt from overtime requirements are assumed to work 40 hours each week for purposes of accrual of paid sick time. If an exempt employee works less than 40 hours, then paid sick leave will accrue based on his or her normal work week.

Use of paid sick leave. An employee may begin using paid sick time no later than the 180th calendar day following commencement of employment.

Permitted uses of paid sick leave. An employee may use accrued paid sick leave for his or her illness or injury and related medical care, including preventative medical care; illness or injury to his or her family members and related medical care for family members, including preventative medical care; or if he or she or a family member is a victim of domestic violence or a sex offense. The term “family member” is defined very broadly and includes an employee’s child, legal guardian or ward, spouse, domestic partner, parent, spouse or domestic partner’s parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild or any other individual related by blood whose relationship with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship. The Ordinance also includes children and parents resulting from adoption and step- and foster relationships. An employer is prohibited from requiring an employee to find a replacement worker to cover the hours during which the employee is on paid sick leave.

Employers may set minimum increments for use of paid sick leave, but a minimum increment may not exceed four hours per day.

Notice to employees. Every employer with a location within the geographic boundaries of Chicago where any covered employee works shall post in a conspicuous place a notice advising employees of their rights to paid sick leave pursuant to the Ordinance.

Notice to employer. If the need to use accrued paid sick leave is reasonably foreseeable, an employer may require an employee to provide up to 7 days’ prior notice. If the need is not reasonably foreseeable, the employer may require notice as soon as practicable on the day the employee intends to use paid sick leave. If an employee is absent for more than three consecutive work days, the employer may require certification from a health care provider evidencing the leave was used in accordance with the Ordinance.

Can an employee carry over accrued paid sick leave?

An employee is allowed to carry over to the following 12-month period half of his or her unused accrued paid sick time, up to a maximum of 20 hours. If an employer is subject to the Family Medical Leave Act, an employee is allowed to carry over up to 40 hours of his or her unused accrued paid sick leave, in addition to the permitted 20 hours, for use exclusively for FMLA eligible purposes.

How does this ordinance affect current paid sick leave policies?

If an employer currently grants employees paid sick leave in a manner which meets the requirements of the Ordinance, the current policy need not be revised. However, the employer must ensure its current policy complies with all provisions of the Ordinance, including the allowable uses of paid sick leave.

What happens when employment is terminated?

Unless provided otherwise in a collective bargaining agreement, upon a covered employee’s termination, resignation, retirement or other separation from employment an employer is not required to payout unused paid sick leave.

What happens if the Ordinance is violated?

Anti-retaliation. An employer is prohibited from retaliating against or taking any adverse action against any employee whom exercises or attempts to exercise in good faith his or her rights under the Ordinance, including disclosing, reporting, or testifying about any violation of the Ordinance. Prohibited adverse action includes unjustified termination, unjustified denial of promotion, unjustified negative evaluations, punitive schedule changes or work assignments, or other acts of harassment.

Employee’s right to sue. If an employer violates the Ordinance or if an employee is paid an amount less than the wage due to him or her under the Ordinance, an employee has a civil cause of action against the employer to recover damages equal to three times the amount of unpaid sick time denied or lost due to the violation, interest on this amount, and reasonable attorney’s fees.


Employers that operate in the City of Chicago should carefully review current paid sick leave policies and practices to ensure compliance with the Ordinance. Employers should also regularly review all current employment policies and practices with their counsel to ensure compliance with applicable laws. Please contact Paul J. Doucette or any other Kelly, Olson, Michod, DeHaan & Richter L.L.C. attorney with questions regarding the Ordinance or other employment policies and practices.

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