It’s Contagious… Paid Medical Leave is Coming to Chicago Employees

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Recently, the City of Chicago passed, (by a vote of 48-0) legislation known as the Paid Sick Leave Ordinance which will provide Chicago employees up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year, effective July 1, 2017. Chicago is following a trend that is sweeping the country in this area. Already, major metropolitan areas such as New York City, Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Philadelphia have enacted paid sick leave for employees. It is also the law in at least 5 states throughout the country. Currently there is a bill passed by both houses in Illinois, and is awaiting action by Governor Rauner (if they ever settle the budget impass), which would require that employers that voluntarily provide sick days to their employees to expand this benefit to cover time off to care for other family members. If enacted, this law would become effective January 1, 2017.

A brief summary of the Paid Sick Leave Ordinance:

Covered Employers: Must employ at least (1) eligible employee in the City of Chicago and maintain a business facility within the geographic boundaries of Chicago;

Covered Employees: Most individuals (with certain exceptions) who work in Chicago for at least 80 hours in any 120 day period.

Accrual and Carry Over: Employees can begin accruing paid sick leave on the later of (1) the first day of their employment; or (2) July 1, 2017. Eligible employees can accrue at least (1) hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours of work, up to a maximum of 40 hours in a 12 month period. Covered employees are limited to the usage of no more than 4o hours paid sick leave per 12 month period. Employees can carry over up to one half their accrued unused sick time, up to a maximum of 20 hours to the next year. There are also special rules for employers that are covered by the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act as far as carrying over more than 20 hours into the next year.

What Can the Leave be Used For?

  • The employee or a covered family member’s illness or injury, or receipt of medical diagnosis, care or treatment or preventative medical care or treatment;
  • Absence as a result of being the victim of domestic violence;
  • Closure of an employee’s place of business or the employee’s child’s school or place of care by order of a public official due to a public health emergency.

If a covered employee is absent for more than (3) consecutive days, an employer may

require medical certification from a licensed health care provider. In cases of domestic violence, a signed statement from an attorney will suffice.

Compensation and Benefits:  Employees taking paid sick leave must continue to be compensated at the same rate as they were absent taking the leave. In addition, health care or other benefits cannot be suspended or reduced during the time out period.

Providing Notice: Covered employers must post, in a conspicuous location, notice of the right of employees to take paid sick leave. Model notices are being prepared by the City now and will be made available shortly. In addition, covered employers must provide notice advising eligible employees of their rights under the new law when his or her first paycheck that is subject to the new law is issued.

Damages: An employer that pays a covered employee less than they amount they are entitled to under the new ordinance will be subject to suit that would allow the aggrieved employee to recover three times the amount underpaid as well as any costs the courts may allow. There is also a provision against retaliation against employees for exercising or attempting to exercise their rights to use accrued and available paid sick time. Finally, employers cannot fire, deny a promotion, or otherwise discriminate against an employee who uses paid sick time.

Chicago employers should begin to prepare now for the change in paid sick time. Policies and procedures should be reviewed with an eye towards prepared compliance with applicable paid time off laws.

With over 30 years’ experience in advising employees and businesses on labor and employment questions and issues, let Boznos Law work with you to ensure you are ready to meet the challenges posed by the ever changing employment law landscape. Call Bill Boznos today at (630) 375-1958 or contact us through our website at www.boznoslawoffice.com

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