Compliance with the New Paid Sick Leave Ordinance – Preparation is the Best Medicine!

Compliance with the New Paid Sick Leave Ordinance – Preparation is the Best Medicine!

By Susan Troestler, LaPointe Law
Effective January 1, 2019 virtually all Northbrook employers, regardless of size, will be required to provide paid sick leave to their part and full-time employees. Failure to do so, and failure to comply specifically with the terms of the ordinance could result in substantial fines, employee back wages and even a lawsuit. The good news is, there are steps employers can take now to ensure they are compliant.

First, visit the County’s website www.cookcounty.il/gov/service and type Earned Sick Leave Ordinance in the search box. The site contains rules that explain the Ordinance, as well as answers to FAQs.

Second, if you have one, review your existing Paid Time Off (PTO) policy. Employers who offer PTO that can be used for sick leave will need to modify their policy, unless employees accrue and are able to use leave on terms that are at least equivalent to those mandated by the Ordinance.

If you don’t have an existing PTO policy, develop an ESL policy now! Here are the key required provisions.

  • Employees who work at least 80 hours within any 120-day period and who perform at least two hours of work in any particular two-week period are eligible for ESL.
  • Beginning on January 1, or an employee’s first day of work thereafter, ALL employees accrue one hour of ESL for every 40 hours they work. Accrual caps at 40 hours per 12-month period.
  • You are not required to pay unused ESL at termination.
  • Employees can begin to use leave on the 180th day after their start date and may use up to 40 hours of ESL per year for their own medical care, that of their child, parent, spouse or other family members specified in the law, as well as for specified purposes if the employee is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
  • You may require seven days’ notice for foreseeable leave and as soon as practicable otherwise.

Third, look at your attendance policies. Note that the ordinance prohibits retaliation; this means you can’t discipline employees for missing work if the absence is covered ESL, nor can you count the protected absence toward progressive discipline.

Fourth, download the required posting at the County website, post it in each of your Northbrook places of business and be prepared to provide a copy to your employees with their first paycheck following January 1st.

Finally, no matter what size your company is, it’s important to develop systems that ensure compliance with the Ordinance provisions. These include methods of tracking accrual and use of ESL, as well as forms documenting employee requests for time off.

Susan is a partner with LaPointe Law, P.C., a Northbrook-based employment law firm that advises and represents employers on matters relating to the employee-employer relationship.

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