Last month, the Cook County Commission on Human Rights issued final interpretive and procedural rules governing the Cook County Minimum Wage Ordinance, which becomes effective July 1, 2017.

We previously reported on the Cook County ordinance that raises the minimum wage for non-tipped workers to $13.00 by July 1, 2020. Beginning July 1, 2017, the Cook County minimum wage is $10 per hour for non-tipped workers and $4.95 per hour (excluding gratuities) for tipped workers. The minimum wage for non-tipped workers increases to $11.00 per hour beginning July 1, 2018; $12.00 per hour beginning July 1, 2019; and $13.00 per hour beginning July 1, 2020.

The Ordinance covers employers that:

  • Employ at least 4 employees, one of whom is a Covered Employee, or employ 1 Covered Employee as a domestic worker; and
  • Maintain a business facility within Cook County or have a license issued by Cook County.

Government entities other than Cook County, including units of local government and school districts, are excluded.

Employers who maintain a business facility within Cook County are considered Covered Employers subject to the Ordinance, regardless of whether the employer’s corporate headquarters, primary place of business, or the majority of its business, facilities or employees are located outside of Cook County.

A “Covered Employee” is one who performs at least 2 hours of work for an employer that meets the above requirements in any particular two-week period within the geographic boundaries of Cook County. Traveling through Cook County without stopping for a work purpose does not constitute compensated work within Cook County.

The ordinance does not apply to employment covered by a collective bargaining agreement entered into prior to July 1, 2017. For collective bargaining agreements entered into after July 1, the ordinance will apply unless the agreement clearly provides that employees have waived their rights under the ordinance.

These rates will be adjusted upwards for inflation, if warranted, beginning July 1, 2021 for non-tipped workers and July 1, 2018 for tipped workers. New rates will be announced on the Cook County Commission on Human Rights website by June 1 of each year.

The Ordinance also:

  • Requires Covered Employers to retain payroll and personnel records for employees for at least 3 years that demonstrate compliance with the Ordinance;
  • Prohibits retaliation against employees who exercise their rights under the Ordinance; and
  • Requires Covered Employers to post a notice advising Covered Employees of their rights under the Ordinance. A model of the required Notice is available here.

So far, over 40 of Cook County’s 132 municipalities have chosen to opt-out of the Ordinance’s minimum wage mandate, and more may follow before it becomes effective on July 1.

Covered Employers who operate or maintain any business facilities in Cook County are advised to confirm by July 1, 2017 whether their municipality has opted out of the Ordinance and, if it has not, to ensure that they are in compliance with the County’s minimum wage requirements for all Covered Employees.