ChicagoNot to be outdone by the deluge of cities passing paid sick leave laws, on June 22nd, the Chicago City Council approved its paid sick leave ordinance, expanding the rights of workers in the city.  The law requires employers to provide up to 40 hours of paid time off annually for employees to use for specified reasons.

What Does The Ordinance Contain?

Covered Employers

Employers that have at least one full- or part-time employee, within Chicago city limits, and that maintain a business within Chicago city limits, or are subject to Chicago licensing requirements.

Eligible Employees

Employees are covered by this ordinance if they work in Chicago city limits for at least 80 hours in any 120-day period.

 Maximum Amount of Leave Use Per Year

An employer can limit an employee’s paid sick leave to a maximum of 40 hours per year.


Employees accrue 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. For current employees, accrual begins on the ordinance’s effective date of July 1, 2017. For future employees, accrual begins on the 1st calendar day after the employee begins working.

Maximum Accrual Per Year

Employers can cap accrual at 40 hours per 12-month period; of course, an employer can set a higher limit, too.

Front Loading Permitted (instead of accrual method)

If the employer has a policy that grants paid sick leave up front rather than using an accrual model, the employer must award each covered employee 40 hours of paid time off within one year of his/her date of eligibility.

Leave Reasons and Use

An eligible employee must be able to begin using paid sick leave no later than 180 days into their employment. Accrued paid sick leave can be used for the following reasons:

– Employee or family member’s medical condition, treatment, diagnosis, or preventative care;
– Employee or family member is a victim of domestic violence;
– Closure of business, school, or place of child care by public health official due to public health emergency

Carryover Provisions

The 12-month accrual period starts at the date the employee becomes eligible for and begins to accrue paid sick leave., That eligible employee is then allowed to carry over up to 20 hours of unused accrued Paid Sick Leave. If the employee is subject to the FMLA, the employee can carry over up to 40 hours in addition to the 20 hours allowed, meaning an employee who is eligible for FMLA can ultimately carry over up to 60 hours of unused, accrued paid sick leave.

Payment Upon Termination/Reinstatement Upon Rehire

An employer is not required to compensate an employee for unused paid sick leave upon an employee’s termination, resignation, retirement, or other separation.

Covered Relationships

If an eligible employee’s leave reason is due to the need to care for an ill/injured family member, that family member may be a child, spouse, domestic partner, legal guardian, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or any other individual related by blood or whose close association with the employee is the equivalent to a family relationship.


An employer can require reasonable documentation for any absences of more than 3 consecutive work days.

Job Protection

When an employee uses paid sick leave pursuant to this ordinance, the employer cannot retaliate or take any adverse action against the employee, which effectively protects the employee’s job during the absence.

Employee Notice

An employer can require that an employee give advance notice of up to seven days if the need for leave is foreseeable. If the need for leave is not foreseeable, the employee should give notice as soon as practicable.

Employer Notice

An employer must post written notice of an employee’s paid sick leave rights in a conspicuous place at the work site. The employer must also give notice on the employee’s first paycheck. Notice language will be developed by the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

Employer Policy

If an employer has a policy that grants employees paid time off in the same amount and for the same reasons as the Chicago paid sick leave ordinance, then the employer is not required to provide additional paid sick leave.

Collective Bargaining Agreements

The Chicago paid sick leave ordinance has special rules for collective bargaining agreements.

Overwhelmed with the influx of local leave laws?  Reed Group provides up-to-the-minute information through our online compliance tool, LeaveAdvisor. For more information, and access to a free trial, please click here, or call 1-800-347-7443.

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