Client Alerts

Chicago Employers Must Prepare in Advance for Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Law Going Into Effect on July 1, 2017

By: Stephanie E. Harley

About: Employment & Labor

Starting on July 1, 2017, every employer with at least one employee must provide paid sick leave to every employee who works at least eighty hours within a one-hundred-twenty day period (or twenty hours per month). This law applies to every business or individual with a facility within Chicago’s city limits or which is subject to a Chicago city licensing requirement.

An employee can accrue up to forty hours of paid sick leave during a twelve month period. Sick leave is accrued in one hour increments for every forty hours worked. Employees who are exempt from overtime payments are presumed to have worked forty hours per week. Paid sick leave for existing employees shall begin accruing on July 1, 2017. Employees hired after July 1, 2017 shall begin accruing paid sick leave on their first day of employment and must be allowed to use it after working for the employer for six months.

The employer must allow the employee to carry over accrued but unused sick leave at the end of the year. The amount of leave to be carried over depends on whether the employer is subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Employers who are not subject to the FMLA (because they do not have fifty employees within a seventy-five mile radius) must allow the employee to carry over a maximum of twenty hours of accrued but unused paid sick leave each year. Employers who are subject to the FMLA must allow the employee to carry over a maximum of sixty hours of accrued, unused paid sick leave, but the employer can require the employee to use those additional forty hours exclusively for FMLA purposes. Employers are not required to pay an employee for unused accrued sick leave upon termination of the employment relationship.

An employee must be permitted to use paid sick leave when the employee or a family member is sick, injured, or receiving medical care or is a victim of domestic violence or a sex offense. An employee may also use paid sick leave when the employee’s place of business or child’s school or caregiver is closed for a public health emergency. An employer cannot require documentation of the need for paid sick leave unless the employee is absent for three consecutive work days.

The employer is required to post a notice of employees’ rights under this new law in a conspicuous place at each facility within Chicago city limits, and the employer must also provide written notice to each employee with the first paycheck issued after July 1, 2017.

Violation of this law can be expensive since the affected employee is entitled to recover three times the full amount of any unpaid sick leave denied by the employer, plus attorneys’ fees and other costs. Therefore, employers must review and probably revise existing policies regarding paid sick leave, as well as prepare to post notices in their facilities and provide the required handout with July, 2017 paychecks.

If you need advice on whether an existing policy complies with this new law, or assistance in drafting a policy and complying with other aspects of the law, please contact one of our experienced employment attorneys to assist you.