No one really plans to be out sick from work – well, unless there is an afternoon Cubs game. Should you actually fall ill, however, and are concerned about missing pay and time from work, you may be in a luck.
A new paid sick leave law is in effect in for employers in Cook County and Chicago. While employees are rejoicing, many Human Resources representatives and providers are calling it an “administrative nightmare.”
These are some of the highlights of the new Cook County and Chicago laws:
- The new laws in both Cook County and Chicago require almost all employers to allow their workers to accrue an hour of sick time for every 40 hours worked. This applies to all workers, whether full-time, part-time, seasonal, or temporary.
- Employers have the option to give their employees the sick leave up front, or have them accrue it.
- Workers are able to earn 5 paid sick days a year.
- Workers will be permitted to carry over portions of unused sick time to the following year, which is a departure from many employers’ current sick leave policies.
- The sick time off can be used for the employee, to care for a family member in cases of domestic violence, illness, injury, or a public health emergency closing a child’s school or family member’s workplace.
- These laws will help an estimated 40% of private sector workers who do not get any paid sick leave.
As mentioned, these new laws are not without their problems. Many Cook County suburbs have opted out of the county law, creating a headache for employers who have staff in multiple towns. HR departments now have to track each individuals’ paid sick leave carry-over time and requests in addition to their current leave policies. And, if the employee works in multiple towns, this sick leave law will only apply to their work in towns that haven’t opted out. It can be quite confusing.
The Cook County Commission for Human Rights, which is enforcing the ordinance, stated that these new rules are only focused on those who do not currently have sick leave policies. Executive Director Ranjit Hakim said that the commission will help employers come into compliance and that as long as they are doing their best, it will be fine. Essentially, employers have a grace period from the commission; however, they may not have the same reprieve from an employee denied their now-legal paid sick leave.
Frankly, a healthy workplace is a productive one. The actual costs of these ordinances to Cook County and Chicago employers remains to be seen. For now, paid sick leave is the law in Chicago and many surrounding suburbs. If you or a family member think your employer may be in violation of sick-leave laws, give us a call here at LauraLaw.
In the meantime, stay healthy!