Following the statewide law and the Chicago ordinance, Cook County has also amended its existing Earned Sick Leave Ordinance to include paid leave for all employees who work in the county that can be used for any reason an employee chooses. The amendments took effect on December 31, 2023.
Under the amended law, employees who work in the county or whose employers have a place of business in Cook County will earn at least one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked. Unlike the Earned Sick Leave Ordinance, which prescribes how earned sick leave may be used, employees may use accrued leave for any reason.
Other key provisions of the amendments include:
- Uses of Leave: The leave can be used for any reason, from taking care of a sick family member to attending a child’s school play to simply needing a mental health break.
- Leave Documentation: Unlike traditional sick leave policies, employees do not need to provide medical documentation to use their earned leave.
- Employer Notice Requirements: Employers are required to post a notice about the leave in a prominent location at each worksite. In addition, an employer that provides an employee handbook must include a notice of rights in the handbook either by using the state’s model notice or developing an equivalent notice.
- Anti-retaliation Protection: Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who use their paid leave.
Although the amendments took effect on December 31, 2023, enforcement will not begin until February 1, 2024, providing employers with time to review and update their leave policies, processes, and procedures to ensure compliance.
The county has released an updated model notice which should be posted as soon as possible. The notice is also available in multiple languages for those employees whose primary language is not English. It is recommended that employers ensure they provide the notice electronically to any covered remote workers.
Cook County will also release additional guidance in the form of frequently asked questions (FAQs) in early January 2024. Employers should continue to check the website for release of the FAQs.