- Oct 18, 2018
Village Trustees took action last month that will result in all Northbrook businesses needing to comply with the Cook County Paid Sick Leave ordinance, starting in January 1, 2019. By a vote of 6 -1, the Board voted to reverse its earlier position taken last year exempting employers from the ordinance. Trustee A.C. Buehler cast the single vote against the action.
All businesses, with the exception of any unit of government, will be covered by the County statute that requires them to provide paid sick leave for full and part-time employees. Any business with one or more employee, who works two hours in any two week period while in Cook County boundaries, will need to comply with the law. The regulation also applies to workers under the age of 18, tipped employees as well as seasonal or temporary workers.
Last year Northbrook was one of over 110 suburban Cook County municipalities (80% of all towns) that voted to exercise home rule and opt out of the Ordinance. Concerns raised at the time, including by a number of businesses, the Chamber and the ICDC, were that the regulation put Northbrook businesses at a competitive disadvantage with employers in adjacent Lake County. Many argued that the issue should be addressed by the state.
Commenting that the issue of paid sick leave has weighed heavily on her, Trustee Muriel Collison voiced support of the ordinance, noting that she regards paid sick leave as a human issue. “It’s not overly burdensome. It’s not an accounting nightmare,” she said, commenting that she has enacted a policy at her law firm. After listening to many in support of the argument for paid sick leave, she added that she didn’t want to wait for the state to take action. While sympathetic to business concerns, she asked that Trustees not “kick the can down the road” anymore. “I ask you to look past the dollars and cents and see the value that you will derive from those who feel that their health and wellness, and the wellness of their families matter,” she said. “I believe that value outweighs the cost of any sick leave.”
Trustee Jim Karagianis commented that his concerns about seasonal and temporary workers were alleviated by a clarification from Village attorney Steve Elrod that employers are permitted to impose rules that require a minimum of 180 days of employment before the earned sick leave can be taken.
Voicing his opposition, Trustee Buehler commented that the issue is not under the Village’s purview and that it is the job of the state and federal governments, rather than county or village boards, to set labor laws. “It’s a dangerous precedent for the Village to set,” he added.
A representative from the Working Families Coalition, which lobbied for the action, told Trustees in their public statement that the Ordinance would not increase costs, is easy to implement, will improve productivity, provide economic security and will lower the cost of health care in the long run. No opponents spoke at the meeting, although Trustees commented that they did hear from many businesses, with opinions on both sides of the issue.