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The Cook County Commission on Human Rights Issues Proposed Regulations Regarding Its Sick Leave Ordinance

By Scott Cruz / Apr 24, 2017

On November 16, 2016, Clark Hill wrote about the new paid sick leave laws in Chicago, Cook County and Illinois. One of those new paid sick leave laws is the Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance (the "Ordinance"), which was passed on October 5, 2016 and will take effect on July 1, 2017. On April 10, 2017, the Cook County Commission on Human Rights (the "Commission") issued proposed regulations that will govern the interpretation and enforcement of the Ordinance. Readers may access the proposed regulations here. The City of Chicago passed a virtually identical paid sick leave ordinance on June 22, 2016, which will similarly go into effect on July 1, 2017. However, unlike Cook County, the City of Chicago has not yet issued any proposed regulations for its sick leave ordinance.

In the proposed regulations, the Commission makes clear that they are only proposals and are subject to revision based on public comment and further deliberation. The proposed regulations are comprehensive, as they contain ten separate "Parts" that cover a wide range of issues.

  • Part 100, "General Provisions," defines the relevant terms used throughout the Ordinance.
  • Part 200, "Benefit," explains that employers can compensate paid sick leave at the same rate of pay that an employee earns for regular work, and instructs that employers do not have to compensate employees for unused but accrued sick leave upon the employee's termination.
  • Part 300, "Coverage," explains what specific employers and employees are covered under the Ordinance.
  • Part 400, "Accrual," discusses when and how sick leave accrues.
  • Part 500, "Use," identifies the specific reasons employees can use the paid sick leave, as well as how much paid sick leave the employee can use in a 12-month period. It also indicates how much unused paid sick leave an employee can carry over to the next 12-month period.
  • Part 600, "Alternative Practices," explains that in lieu of accruing one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours per 12-month period, employers can "front-load" those hours and provide 40 hours of paid sick leave to their employees at the beginning of each new 12-month period.
  • Part 700, "Notification of Rights," instructs that employers must post notices of employees' rights under the Ordinance in a conspicuous location within each of their Cook County facilities. The employer must provide the notices to all new employees hired after July 1, 2017 at the time of their hiring.
  • Part 800, "Recordkeeping," instructs that employers are not required to (but should) maintain personnel and/or payroll records documenting an employee's use of paid sick leave under the Ordinance and that employees are not required to retain any records to support their clams of a violation under the Ordinance.
  • Part 900, "Miscellaneous Practices," establishes prohibited and permissible actions by employers in implementing paid sick leave policies under the Ordinance.
  • Finally, Part 1000, "Enforcement," allows employees to file a complaint with the Commission alleging a violation under the Ordinance within two years from the date of the alleged violation. The process for filing any such complaints with the Commission, and the investigatory process following the filing of any such Complaint with the Commission is also included in this Part.

Employers should review the proposed regulations. Should they seek to voice a concern or propose a suggested revision, they are encouraged to submit comments directly to the Commission at human.rights@cookcountyil.gov before May 8, 2017, the deadline for submitting comments. Clark Hill is ready to help any employer with drafting concerns or proposed changes in the regulation. On or before June 1, 2017, the Commission will vote to adopt, amend, or reject the proposed regulations. Clark Hill will issue an e-alert once the Commission takes any action.

If you have any questions about the decision, please contact Scott Cruz at (312) 985-5910 | scruz@clarkhill.com, or your Clark Hill labor and employment attorney.