Poised to join the increasing number of cities that require paid sick leave, the Working Families Task Force (commissioned by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel) recently recommended that employees in Chicago be allowed to earn at least 5 paid sick days each year. The task force is comprised of 27 members, including business, government and worker representatives, and this proposal stems from a non-binding February 2015 referendum where nearly 82% of Chicago voters voiced support for paid sick leave.

On April 3, 2016, the task force provided the following recommendations for the proposed paid sick leave ordinance:

  • It would apply to employers of all sizes;
  • Employees would earn 1 hour of sick time for every 40 hours worked, up to 5 days in a year;
  • Employees would be eligible to “roll over” up to 20 hours of unused sick time to the following year;
  • New employees would not be able to use paid sick days until they had been employed for 180 days (thus exempting many seasonal or temporary employees);
  • Employees would be allowed to bank up to 5 days of earned sick leave to use for purposes of leave pursuant to the FMLA;
  • Unused sick days would not be paid out upon an employee’s exit from the company;
  • Employers that lump sick days into general paid-time-off benefits would not have to change their practices as long as the benefits include at least 5 days off; and
  • Sick leave benefits negotiated as part of a collective bargaining agreement would be exempt from the ordinance.

This proposed ordinance will progress to the Chicago City Council for deliberation. It serves as an important reminder of the growing trend in sick leave protections around the country.  Employers should review their paid time off policies to ensure compliance at both the state and local level.