The Cook County, IL Board of Commissioners has recently passed an ordinance on paid sick leave that will affect virtually all employers in the county. As the ordinance itself can be confusing, we thought we would put together some questions and answers to help you navigate this new employment landscape and comply with the ordinance.

Here is some Q&A that will help you understand the new ordinance:

Q: When does this ordinance go into effect?

A: The ordinance goes into effect on July 1, 2017.

Q: What does this ordinance do?

A: The ordinance allows employees to accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick leave in a 12-month period.

Q: Who does this ordinance apply to?

A: This ordinance applies to all employers that maintain a place of business in Cook County, IL  and who employ at least one covered employee.

Q: Who is considered a covered employee?

A: An employee is considered a covered employee if he or she works part time or full time in Cook County, IL at least 2 hours in any 2 week period. To be eligible, the employee must work at least 80 hours for an employer within any 120 day period.

Q: I am in the construction industry, does this ordinance apply to me?

A: If you are in the construction industry and are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, then the ordinance does not apply to you. The ordinance does not affect collective bargaining agreements that are in effect on July 1, 2017.

Q: How much paid sick leave must I give to my employees?

A: Covered employees accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. As an employer, you may limit paid sick leave accrual to 40 hours in a 12-month period. If, as an employer, you are subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), your employees may carry over up to an additional 40 hours of unused paid sick leave to the following 12-month period, increasing the carryover obligation to a total of 60 hours.

Q: When can my employees begin using their paid sick leave?

A: You must permit your employees to start using paid sick leave no later than 180 days after the employee starts working for you.

Q: What are the reasons for which my employees can use sick leave?

A: Employees can use sick leave for any of the following: (i) the employee, or the employee’s family member is ill, injured, or is receiving medical care, treatment, diagnosis or preventive medical care; (ii) the employee, or the employee’s family member, is the victim of domestic sexual violence, including stalking; (iii) a public official closes the employee’s place of business because of a public health emergency, or the employee needs to care for a child after a public official has closed the child’s school or place of care because of a public health emergency.

Q: Can I ask my employee to find someone to cover for him or her when they use paid sick days?

A: No.

Q: How much notice do my employees need to provide to me if they want to use sick days?

A: If the need for paid sick leave is reasonably foreseeable, then you may require the employee to provide up to 7 days of notice. If it is not reasonably foreseeable, then you may require the employee to call, email or text you as soon as practicable on the day the employee intends to use leave.

Q: Can I ask my employee for a doctor’s note or for any other documentation?

A: If your employee is absent for more than 3 consecutive work days, then you may require certification that he or she used paid sick leave for a reason covered by the ordinance.

Q: Do I need to post any notices or posters that discuss this ordinance?

A: Yes. You must post a notice advising employees of their rights. Furthermore, you must provide employees notice of their rights at the commencement of their employment. For the form notices, please see the Cook County Commission on Human Rights.

We hope that this Q&A has helped you understand the Paid Sick Leave Ordinance and will allow you to better comply with the law in Cook County, IL.

Donata Kalnenaite, Esq.

Agency Attorneys