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Summary: On December 14, 2023, the Cook County Board of Commissioners replaced the prior Cook County earned sick leave ordinance with a new paid leave ordinance. The new ordinance requires employers to provide their employees in Cook County, Illinois, with paid leave for any reason. This new Cook County paid leave ordinance went into effect on December 31, 2023.
Employers with Illinois employees continue to face a complex and rapidly changing paid leave landscape, most recently due to a new paid leave ordinance in Cook County, Illinois, effective December 31, 2023.
This new Cook County paid leave ordinance (Cook County Ordinance), passed by the Cook County Board of Commissioners on December 14, 2023, replaced the prior Cook County earned sick leave ordinance and requires employers to provide their employees in Cook County with paid leave for any reason.
The Cook County Ordinance arrived right before the new Illinois law requiring paid leave for Illinois employees for any reason became effective on January 1, 2024. Click here for a Risk Strategies article with important details on this new Illinois paid leave law.
Moreover, the Cook County Ordinance was passed the day after the Chicago City Council approved a six-month delay of the new Chicago paid leave and paid sick leave ordinance, now effective on July 1, 2024. Click here for a Risk Strategies article detailing this Chicago paid leave ordinance delay.
Highlights of the Cook County Ordinance include the following:
Covered Employees & Employers: Employees covered under the Cook County Ordinance include all employees working in Cook County, except for those noted below:
The following employers are not covered under the Cook County Ordinance:
Accrual: Employees will accrue Cook County Ordinance time at the rate of one hour for every 40 hours worked up to 40 hours of paid leave time during a 12-month period. Exempt employees are deemed to work 40 hours per week unless their regular workweek is less than 40 hours, in which case Cook County Ordinance time accrues based on their regular workweek.
Employees will begin accruing Cook County Ordinance leave on December 31, 2023 or upon their date of hire, if later. Employees may begin using their Cook County Ordinance time 90 days after their date of hire. Employees hired before December 31, 2023 may begin using their accrued Cook County Ordinance time on March 30, 2024.
Minimum Increment: Employers may require employees to use Cook County Ordinance leave in minimum increments of no less than two hours per day.
Employee Notice Requirements: Employers may require employees to provide notice of their need to take Cook County Ordinance time seven calendar days in advance when the need is foreseeable. If the need for paid leave is not foreseeable, then employers may require notice from employees as soon as practicable in accordance with the employer’s written paid leave notice policies.
Employers cannot require employees to provide a reason or documentation/certification for taking Cook County Ordinance time, and cannot require employees to search for or find a replacement worker to cover their hours while taking leave. As a reminder, employees using their Cook County Ordinance time may take paid leave for any reason, including, but not limited to, vacation, personal, family, and illness-related purposes.
Employer Notice & Recordkeeping Requirement: Employers must post a Cook County Ordinance notice in a conspicuous place at each worksite located within the geographic boundaries of Cook County. If an employer’s workforce has a significant portion of non-English speakers, the notice must also be posted in the appropriate language(s). This notice must also be provided to employees at the commencement of their employment.
Employees are required to maintain Cook County Ordinance records documenting hours worked, paid leave accrued and taken, and remaining paid leave balance for each covered employee for a period of three years and must provide access to these records to the Cook County Commission on Human Rights to monitor compliance.
Existing Paid Leave Policies: Employers with existing paid leave policies providing at least 40 hours of paid leave that provides employees the option, at their discretion, to take paid leave for any reason will satisfy the Cook County Ordinance requirements.
Carryover & Frontloading Rules: Employees may carryover unused, accrued Cook County Ordinance time annually up to 40 hours within the designated 12-month period. Employers may choose to frontload 40 hours of Cook County Ordinance leave at the start of the 12-month period for employees, rather than carrying over unused Cook County Ordinance time.
Payout Upon Termination: Although employers are not required to pay out accrued, unused Cook County Ordinance time to employees upon termination of employment, employers are advised to consult with their employment and labor law counsel to determine how this particular Cook County Ordinance termination pay-out provision interacts with applicable state wage and hour laws in certain instances, particularly with respect to the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act and rules.
Employers with employees in Cook County are advised to work with their employment and labor counsel for next steps to:
Risk Strategies is closely following the rapidly changing paid leave landscape in Illinois and will provide updates when available. Contact us directly with any questions at email@example.com.
 Note that the Illinois paid leave law provides an additional exemption from its requirements for employees covered under a bona fide CBA working for an employer providing national and international services of delivery, pickup, and transportation of parcels, documents, and freight.