Local Businesses Face County Minimum Wage, Paid Sick Leave

Local Businesses Face County Minimum Wage, Paid Sick Leave

Mirroring action taken by the City of Chicago last year, Cook County recently adopted two new ordinances that would apply to all businesses within the County, mandating a graduated increase in the minimum wage as well as requiring paid sick leave for all employees. Both ordinances are slated to go into effect July 1, 2017. Commissioner Gregg Goslin, who represents Northbrook, voted against both mandates, which were approved by a vote of 11-4-1 in October.

Area businesses have begun to sort through the details of the new laws and are evaluating the impact to their bottom line. Retailers, non-profit organizations and those heavily dependent on younger workers are concerned about the blow of both laws going into effect simultaneously. According to retailers an increase in the minimum wage will have a ripple affect across the wage structure at their businesses in addition to increasing payroll taxes and benefit costs. The Paid Sick Leave Ordinance is expected to create administrative headaches on top of the added expense.

Minimum Wage Hike
The new ordinance would gradually increase the minimum wage according to the following schedule: $10 an hour July 1, 2017; $11 an hour in 2018; $12 an hour in 2019; $13 an hour in 2020 and subsequent annual increases in proportion to the increase in the CPI not to exceed 2.5 percent in any year. After 2021, if the unemployment rate in Chicago is equal to or greater than 8.5% the ordinance waives any increase. Tipped employees who make $4.95 an hour under Illinois law, will see their wages rise with the rate of inflation starting July 1, 2018 not to exceed 2.5 percent. The law applies to the entire County, including unincorporated areas. Municipal employees are exempt from the law.

Mandatory Paid Sick Leave
The Earned Sick Leave ordinance mandates that Cook County employers allow eligible employees to accrue up to 40 hours (5 days) of paid sick leave in each 12 month period of their employment. Individuals are entitled to the benefit if they work at least two hours of work within a two-week period and work at least 80 hours within a 120 day period period. For every 40 hours worked an employee will accrue one hour of Paid Sick Leave with a cap of 40 hours per 12-month period. Employees can carry a maximum of 20 unused hours into the next year. Employees can use paid sick leave for their own illness, injuries, medical care (including preventive care) or for the illness, injuries or medical care of certain covered family members, including child, spouse, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild as well as step- and foster relationships.

Northbrook Options
Like other Home Rule municipalities in Cook County, the Village of Northbrook is allowed to pass ordinances that opt out of these specific County laws. Already, Palatine, Barrington and Mt. Prospect are working on resolutions to exempt themselves from the new laws, concerned that it would slow economic development and push businesses to nearby counties. The Illinois Retail Merchants Association opposed the Paid Sick Leave ordinance stating that it contributes to an unfriendly business climate.

The Chamber and Village have been in communication as to the impact of these ordinances on local businesses and the options for opting out of one, both, or neither of these new Cook County laws. Members interested in sharing thoughts on the ordinances are encouraged to contact Chamber President Tensley Garris at Tensley@northbrookchamber.org.&’ type=’text/javascript’>