Last week the Cook County Board passed a bill mandating employer paid sick leave. I opposed this onerous legislation, but as it passed overwhelmingly by the Board, your members will want to be aware of the implications for local businesses.
It will require employers within Cook County to provide mandated sick leave for employees that work 80 hours within a 120 day period, effective July 1, 2017. I’ve included synopsis of opinions from the State’s Attorney with this letter.
Note that as this is not a statewide requirement, it is possible for municipalities to draft their own legislation that would take precedence over County authority, in effect to opt out of this requirement. Businesses in unincorporated Cook County will still be impacted.
Here are the specifics of this legislation:
An Employer is any person/business employing one or more employees if:
- The principle place of business is within Cook County
- Or the Employer does business with Cook County.
A covered employee is any employee who:
- Within a two-week period, performs at least two hours of work, while physically present within the geographic boundaries of Cook County – this includes time spent traveling in Cook County that is compensated such as deliveries, sales calls & travel related business.
- And, is employed for at least 80 hours within a 120-day period.
- For every 40 hours worked an employee will accrue one hour of Paid Sick Leave with a cap of 40 hours per 12-month period
- Employees can carry over half of their unused accrued sick leave – up to a maximum of 20 hours – into the next year.
Paid Sick Leave Use:
- Covered employees can begin to use Paid Sick Leave on the 180th calendar day of employment, approximately 6 months after their start date.
- If an Employee is subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act, they can carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick leave – in addition to the allowable 20 hours – for Family and Medical Leave purposes.
The Cook County State’s Attorney rendered four separate legal opinions in response to inquiries from Cook County Commissioners:
Aug. 7, 2015 – The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Civil Division was asked to give advice with regard to the County’s home rule authority as it applies to mandating employee sick leave:
The SA concluded that the enactment of an ordinance requiring employers to provide paid leave to their employees likely does not fall within home rule authority based on the Illinois Supreme Court, which in identifying similar laws regarding State labor regulations, concluded that the State has a far more vital interest in regulating labor conditions than local entities.
July 22, 2016
On whether Cook County has the legal authority to enact a paid leave mandate for private employers in both unincorporated and incorporated areas of Cook County:
The SA’s legal conclusion is that Cook County lacks the home rule authority to enact a paid leave mandate for employers whether countywide or within unincorporated Cook County.
On whether countywide paid sick leave mandate would include home rule municipalities:
The SA concluded that such an ordinance would be applicable countywide except to the extent that it conflicted with the ordinance of a municipality, home rule or the Illinois based on Article VII 6(c) of the Illinois Constitution that “if a home rule county ordinance conflicts with an ordinance of a municipality, the municipal ordinance shall prevail within its jurisdiction.”
October 5, 2016
On whether the County has the ability to implement a paid sick leave mandate:
The SA reiterated its conclusion from August 7, 2015 – this ordinance likely does not fall within home rule authority.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions.