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IMA Human Resources Blog

Illinois employers smothered with paid leave mandates: Prepare to comply

From IMA member law firm Pautsch, Spognardi & Baiocchi Legal Group LLP . . .

As PSB Legal Group previously predicted, local governments have been busy mandating paid leave laws across the country. Illinois state and local lawmakers are no exception, and recently enacted paid leave mandates, which, not surprisingly, have generated opposition from small business owners and well as some municipalities.

Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act. This law, which took effect January 1, does not mandate paid sick leave. However, those employers who provide paid sick leave must allow employees to use half of their annual earned leave to care for “family members.” (Think of it as an “enhanced” and liberal baby family and medical leave act.) In January, the new law was amended again, clarifying the family members it applies to; the circumstances exempting employees and employers covered by collective bargaining agreements; and excluding application to commercial disability and insurance policies.

Illinois Child Bereavement Act. This law takes effect July 28. It requires Illinois employers covered by the federal FMLA to allow employees to up to 10 work days per year of unpaid bereavement leave after the death of a child, or up to six weeks following the death of more than one child.

Chicago Paid Sick Leave Ordinance. This ordinance amended the Chicago Minimum Wage Ordinance to mandate that a “covered employee” of a “covered employer” must be allowed to accrue, for every 40 hours worked, 1 hour of paid leave, up to 40 hours in any 12 month period. The law takes effect on July 1. A “covered employee” is an employee who works at least 80 hours within a 120 day period, and who performs at least two hours or work for his employer in any two week period while inside the Chicago city limits. A “covered employer” is a person or entity that employs at least one “covered employee” while maintaining a business facility in the city limits. and while subject to city licensing requirements. A covered employee can carry over up to 20 hours of paid leave at the end of the 12 month period, unless the employee is also covered by the FMLA, in which case he can carry over 40 hours of paid leave (thus, banking up to 60 hours of paid leave).

The employee begins earning the leave on his first day of employment, but may be required to wait 180 before taking the leave. The employee may use the paid leave for the same reasons (and additional ones) specified by the FMLA; for domestic violence; and because a business is closed due to a public health emergency. Seven days’ notice may be required for leave that is foreseeable, and limited certification of the need for leave may be required. The Chicago ordinance exempts construction industry employees covered by bona fide collective bargaining agreements, and employees covered by collective bargaining agreements negotiated after July 1, if the waiver is clear and unambiguous. The Chicago ordinance is enforced by a private cause of action in state court and provides for treble damages and attorneys’ fees.

Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance. The Cook County order essentially is the same scheme as the Chicago ordinance, with the same definitions of covered employees and covered employers, and accrual and carry-over requirements. The ordinance also takes effect on July 1. An important difference is that Cook County Commission on Human Rights will enforce the law, and there is a three-year statute of limitations. It provides for treble damages and reasonable attorneys’ fees. The Commission intends to provide final notice postings and regulations by June 1.

Responding to business opposition, the Villages of Rosemont and Barrington, and the City of Oak Forest, have passed their own ordinances opting out of the Cook County ordinance. The Barrington village manager call the ordinance a “complete overreach.” Other municipalities are expected to follow suit, while others commentators are wondering if Cook County will file a lawsuit against municipalities rejecting the ordinance.

These recent laws are troubling for small and medium size employers operating in Cook County and Chicago who have been looking forward to less regulatory requirements.

Call any PSB attorney if you need assistance with your compliance efforts. Visit http://www.psb-attorneys.com for more information.

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