New Chicago ordinance will require employers to provide paid sick leave

by Steven L. Brenneman

On June 22, the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance that will require nearly all employers in Chicago to provide paid sick leave to employees. The ordinance, which passed 48-0 despite opposition from business and employer groups, follows the lead of similar laws in several states and more than a dozen cities. It is expected to be signed into law quickly by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and it will take effect on July 1, 2017.

The ordinance will apply to virtually all employers in Chicago, regardless of the number of employees. All businesses that have a location in the city or are subject to city licensing requirements must comply (except for employers in the construction industry).

The ordinance will require employers to provide all employees who work at least 80 hours in a 120-day period with one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours of leave per year. Accrual of paid leave will start on the first day of employment or the ordinance’s effective date, whichever is later. Paid sick leave will accrue only in one-hour increments.

Also, employers will be required to allow employees to carry over half of their unused accrued paid sick leave (up to 20 hours) to the next year. In addition, to further complicate matters, employers that are subject to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) must allow employees to carry over up to 40 additional hours of accrued paid sick leave to use exclusively for FMLA-qualifying purposes. However, if an employee carries over and uses 40 additional sick leave hours for FMLA-qualifying purposes, she may use only 20 additional hours of leave in the same 12-month period.

The next issue of Illinois Employment Law Letter will cover more about how the leave may be used, compensation requirements for paid leave, special rules for tipped employees, employee notice requirements, interactions with collective bargaining agreements, employer posting and notice requirements, and other aspects of the new law.

Steven L. Brenneman is a partner and chair of the Employment Law Group at Fox, Swibel, Levin & Carroll, LLP, in Chicago and an editor of Illinois Employment Law Letter. You may reach him at