April 13, 2017

Cook County Employee Paid Sick Leave Ordinance Updates

Beginning July 1, 2017, all employees (including part-time employees) who work in Cook County will have a right to paid sick leave under either the Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance, the Chicago Paid Sick Leave Ordinance (collectively the "Ordinances") or both.  The Ordinances will affect the PTO policies for most associations that have employees. While the Ordinances' requirements seem straightforward, allowing many associations to believe that their current PTO or sick leave policies meet the standards, many policies will be deficient once the Ordinances go into effect which could be extremely problematic for associations.  The potential fallout is great; both Ordinances provide that employees who do not receive the appropriate paid sick time may file a lawsuit and collect triple damages against the association (together with all court costs and reasonable attorneys' fees, as well as interest).
Before highlighting the particulars of the Ordinances, we should indicate that the Ordinances do not apply to employees who are working subject to a collective-bargaining agreement ("CBA") in force as of July 1, 2017.  Additionally, the new provisions under the Ordinances may be waived in a bona fide CBA entered into subsequent to the July 1, 2017 effective date, as long as any waiver in said contract is explicit and unambiguous.  A few of the main points from the Ordinances include:
  • Applies to all employees – including part-time employees – who work at least 80 hours in any 120 day period.
  • Permits employees to carry over up to 20 hours of paid sick leave into the subsequent year (or up to 60 hours for employers not covered by the Family Medical Leave Act ["FMLA"]).
  • Paid sick leave may be used not just for the employee or employee's family members' injury or illness, but also to seek medical care in the event that the employee or family member is the victim of domestic violence or if the employee's children's school or place of care is closed due to a public health emergency. 
  • Provides that the employer cannot require a note unless the employee is out for more than three (3) consecutive days.  
  • Puts limitations on the notice employers may require from employees, including allowing employees to provide last minute notice by phone, e-mail or text if the situation warrants.
The Ordinances do include some provisions that assist employers (thus would be a benefit to the association), including capping accrual at 40 hours per year, capping use of the sick leave time per year and, finally, not requiring pay-out upon termination.  However, to take advantage of these employer-friendly provisions, the association must reflect said provisions within the employee sick leave policy.
Given the fact that LP has found very few current sick leave and PTO policies that meet the requirements of the Ordinances, we encourage all our association clients that have employees that will be covered by the Ordinances, to submit to have their policies reviewed.