HR Management & Compliance

Election Day Brings Milwaukee Employees Sick Leave Benefits

While much of the focus on the recent election has been on the results of the presidential and federal and state legislative races, in Wisconsin, city of Milwaukee voters also passed a binding referendum creating an ordinance providing sick leave benefits for all employees working within the city. Effective immediately, the ordinance is being enforced by the city’s Equal Opportunity Commission.

The ordinance applies to all employers located within the geographic boundaries of the city of Milwaukee, except for the federal government and the “state of Wisconsin, including any office, department, agency, authority, institution, association, society or other body of the state, including the legislative and judiciary, or county or local government.”

It requires affected employers to provide a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked by an employee, not to exceed 72 hours of sick leave for an employee in a calendar year. Small businesses, as defined in the ordinance (generally, those with 10 or fewer employees in a given week), will only be required to allow accrual of up to 40 hours of sick leave per calendar year, with the employer having the option to provide a higher limit.

Employees will begin accruing sick leave immediately upon commencing employment but won’t be able to use any accrued sick leave until the 90th calendar day following their first day of work. If an employer already has a “paid-time-off policy” that meets the sick leave amount and use requirements set forth in the ordinance, this policy will qualify as meeting the mandate of the ordinance, and the employer won’t need to implement an additional sick leave policy.

Sick leave may be used for a number of specific purposes, including an employee’s own illness, illness of a child or other family member as defined in the ordinance, as  well as for certain activities related to domestic abuse or sexual assault. The ordinance also contains leave carry-over provisions, with the threshold coverage per calendar year not to exceed the 72/40-hour requirements.

The Milwaukee Department of Employee Relations is currently drafting administrative rules and developing infrastructure to handle questions and process complaints. The city’s website notes that it expects implementation of all provisions of the ordinance will be accomplished by February 2009.

See a complete copy of the text of the city of Milwaukee’s sick leave ordinance

If you have any questions about this topic or other employment law issues, feel free to contact the attorney-editors of Wisconsin Employment Law Letter: Saul C. Glazer and Michael J. Modl practice law in Wisconsin with the law firm Axley Brynelson, LLP.

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