United States: Cook County Joins Chicago And Other Jurisdictions In Mandating Paid Sick Leave

Executive Summary: On October 5, 2016, the Cook County Board of Commissioners passed a new ordinance, which will take effect on July 1, 2017, requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to employees working in Cook County, Illinois. In doing so, Cook County joins nearly 30 other local jurisdictions (and counting) with similar paid sick leave laws.


Cook County's Ordinance nearly mirrors Chicago's ordinance, which was passed in June 2016 and also goes into effect on July 1, 2017. Under the Ordinance, employees in Cook County, with a few exceptions discussed below, would earn one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked, with a cap of 40 hours in a 12-month period (counted from the date accrual begins), unless the employer sets a higher limit. Cook County's Ordinance refers to the time as "Earned Sick Leave," slightly different from Chicago's phrasing as "Paid Sick Leave."

The Ordinance applies to an employer that "gainfully" employs "at least one Covered Employee with its principal place of business within Cook County." A "covered employee" is one who performs at least two hours of work in a two-week period for an employer while physically present within Cook County. For employees to be eligible, they must work at least 80 hours for an employer in any 120-day period of time; thus most part-time, non-seasonal workers will qualify.

Employees will begin to accrue the leave time on their first day of employment (or on July 1, 2017 if already employed) but can be required to wait up to 180 days after their start date to actually begin taking the leave. Employers can set minimum increments of sick leave use, but not more than four hours per day. Employees who are "exempt" under the Fair Labor Standards Act will be presumed to work 40 hours per week.     

Use of Sick Leave

The sick leave can be used for an employee's illness or injury (including medical care, treatment and diagnosis), but it can also be used for:

  • Preventative medical care
  • Caring for an ill or injured family member or family member receiving preventative care
  • Victims of domestic violence or a sex offense (the employee or employee's family member)
  • Caring for a child whose school has been closed due to a public health emergency; or if the employee's place of business has been closed for the same reason

Family members include the employee's child (biological, adopted, step, and foster), spouse, domestic partner, parent (including biological, foster, stepparent, or adoptive parent), sibling, grandparent, grandchild or other blood relative, or any person whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.

Employers will be allowed to require up to seven days of leave notice where feasible, such as for a pre-planned medical appointment. Where the notice is not reasonably foreseeable, the employer can require an employee to give notice as soon as practicable (via phone, e-mail or text message). The Ordinance states that employers may require certification (such as a note from a licensed health care provider) that the use of paid sick leave was for reasons allowed under the Ordinance when the absence is for three or more consecutive days. Like Chicago's ordinance, Cook County's ordinance fails to specify whether an employer may ask for such certifications for absences of less than three days. The Ordinance also allows an employer to discipline an employee for use of paid sick leave in a manner inconsistent with the allowable reasons.

Carry-Over, FMLA, and Treatment at Termination

Unless otherwise provided by a collective bargaining agreement or other written policy, the Ordinance does not require employers to pay out unpaid sick leave upon termination of employment (voluntary or involuntary), which is consistent with current State regulations set out by the Illinois Department of Labor for sick leave.

On the other hand, employees will be allowed to carry over half of any unused sick time into the next year, up to 20 hours. The ordinance further provides that if an employer is subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) (i.e. with 50 or more employees), then the employee shall also be allowed to carry over up to 40 hours (instead of only 20) of unused accrued paid sick leave to use exclusively for FMLA-eligible purposes. If the employee uses the 40 hours for an FMLA leave, he will be limited to only 20 additional hours of paid sick leave for other qualifying reasons for the rest of the one-year period. Like with Chicago's ordinance, Cook County's Ordinance is unclear whether an employee would first need to use up all 40 hours of carried-over paid sick leave for an FMLA leave before he would be able to take any of the additional 20 hours for non-FMLA reasons. The Ordinance is silent, and there have been no public discussions, about employer policies that require employees to first exhaust accrued paid leave when taking an FMLA leave and whether this 40-hour carryover provision would prohibit such policies.

Exceptions and Variances  

  • The Ordinance will not apply to construction industry workers who are covered by a bona fide collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
  • Unlike the Chicago ordinance, the Cook County Ordinance does not include railroad employees.
  • The Ordinance will not require unions and employers to immediately re-negotiate CBAs and instead, they can wait until the next contract period. The parties to a CBA can also decide to explicitly waive the County's minimum sick leave requirements.
  • Employees in occupations in which tips have customarily constituted part of their pay must be compensated for sick time at a rate at least equal to the applicable minimum wage.

Employers who already provide paid time off in at least an amount and manner that meets the requirements of the County's paid sick leave do not have to provide additional paid leave.


The Ordinance also requires notice to be provided to employees of their rights under the ordinance, both via posting with other legally-required employment notices (i.e. in a conspicuous place at each facility within the County), as well as providing a notice to employees upon commencement of employment.


The only significant difference between the Cook County and Chicago ordinances is enforcement. Under Cook County's ordinance, the Cook County Commission on Human Rights will administer and enforce the law. Employees will need to file an administrative complaint with the Commission for violations of the Ordinance. If the employee prevails, the penalties for failing to provide paid sick leave include triple the amount of any non-payment or underpayment (with interest), as well as attorneys' fees and costs to the prevailing employee of pursuing his or her claim. There is a three-year statute of limitations from the date of the last event constituting the alleged violation (Chicago's ordinance is silent on the statute of limitations issue).

The Bottom Line:

Employers who are not currently providing sick leave to employees in an amount at least equal to the new Ordinance should begin drafting policies consistent with the new law. Employers also need to begin taking steps to determine the best way to track the accrual and use of paid sick leave, and ensuring that the proper notices will be in place and provided in a timely manner.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Sign Up
Gain free access to lawyers expertise from more than 250 countries.
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Newsalert
Select Topics
Select Regions
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions