On October 5, 2016, Cook County, Illinois joined the growing list of jurisdictions across the country to pass a paid sick leave ordinance, following what’s becoming a popular trend across the country, not only in the Midwest, but nationwide. Previously, the city of Chicago, located in Cook County, also passed a similar ordinance in June 2016.
Under both Chicago and Cook County ordinances, employers will be required to provide employees with one hour of sick time for every 40 hours worked. Paid time off earned can be up to 5 days per year, unless employers allow for more time to be earned. At least 2.5 unused sick days can be carried over to the following year.
Both ordinances go into effect on July 1, 2017 providing paid sick leave to some 460,000 workers in Chicago and another 441,000 in Cook County. However, 36% of U.S workers, some 41 million, are still without paid sick leave. But hopes are that this will soon change.
Paid Sick Leave in the United States
Across the country, there are now thirty-seven jurisdictions, which mandate the minimum sick leave requirements. States like California, Oregon, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut have made it a requirement throughout their states. There are other states and counties that are currently considering passing similar ordinances. Additionally, a new bill was introduced to the House, the Healthy Families Act, seeking to make the paid sick leave days a reality for all of the U.S. workers.
Momentum for the Healthy Families Act is growing and hopes are high that paid sick leave days for all workers will become a requirement across the nation. The Healthy Families Act proposes the following:
- Certain employers, with 15 or more employees, must allow employees to earn one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked.
- Employers will not be required to permit employees to earn more than 56 hours of paid sick time during a calendar year unless they choose.
- Employees will be able to use their earned time to meet their own medical needs, care for the medical needs of certain family members (including the children of a domestic partner), engage in medical, legal, or other specified activities related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
The proposal also includes the right of employees to seek relief from employers who violate the above guidelines.
In municipalities where paid sick leave laws have been passed, many employer are in favor of the ordinances. Evidence shows that when employees have paid sick leave, they have increased productivity and morale. Medical costs and overall missed time also tend to decrease as employees tend to their illnesses early on without fear of losing money or their jobs.
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