Effective July 1, 2017, Cook County Ordinance 16-4229 (“Ordinance”) will allow employees who work in Cook County to accrue and use earned paid sick leave. The Ordinance is nearly identical to Chicago’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance that passed the city’s council by a vote of 48-0 earlier this year. Under both the Chicago law and the Ordinance, employees who work at least 80 hours during a 120-day period are eligible to accrue and use earned sick leave. Starting July 1, 2017, eligible employees will accrue one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Employees hired after July 1, 2017 will begin to accrue sick leave after their first day on the job. Employees can begin to use earned sick leave after 180 days on the job. Employees can use up to 40 hours of earned sick leave in a 12-month period for their personal illness or injury, a family member’s illness, injury or other medical needs, and to address matters of domestic violence perpetrated on the employee or his or her family member.

The Ordinance defines “family member” as the employee’s child (either adopted, biological, step-child, foster, or in a loco parentis relationship), legal guardian or ward, spouse, domestic partner, parent, spouse or domestic partner’s parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild or any other individual related by blood or by a close association equivalent to a family relationship. The 12-month period starts on the date the employee begins to accrue earned sick leave. At the end of the 12-month period, employees may carry over up to 20 hours of accrued but unused earned sick leave to be used in the next 12-month period. If an employer qualifies as a “Covered Employer” by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), that business’s employees may carry over an additional 40 hours to be used for FMLA-approved leave. If an employee carries over and uses 40 hours for FMLA leave in a 12-month period, the employee may use up to 20 additional hours of earned paid sick leave during the same 12-month period.

Employers may require employees to provide seven days’ notice before using paid sick leave, but must allow employees to give same-day notice for leave that is not foreseeable. The Ordinance defines foreseeable leave as including, but not limited to, prescheduled medical appointments or courts dates in domestic violence cases. Employers may require an employee who is absent for more than three consecutive days to provide certification that his or her leave was due to an employee or family member’s illness, injury or domestic violence-related matter. A signed document by a licensed health care provider, an attorney, a member of clergy or a victim services advocate is acceptable under the Ordinance. However, employers may not require the document to specify the nature of the employee or family member’s injury, illness or medical condition except as required by law.