On April 10, 2017, the Cook County Commission on Human Rights posted draft regulations for the Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance. The Cook County ordinance was passed on October 5, 2016, and will take effect on July 1, 2017. The commission expects to adopt and publish final rules, a model posting, and required notices by June 1, 2017. The City of Chicago passed a virtually identical sick leave ordinance on June 22, 2016, and it too will take effect on July 1, 2017. To date, the City of Chicago has not published rules or regulations regarding the Chicago paid sick leave ordinance.

Cook County’s draft regulations address the impact of the timing and location of work by covered employees (see section 310.300), notice of rights (see section 700.200), and the administrative enforcement process (see subpart 1020), among other issues.

Employers have faced challenges in developing workable sick leave policies given the rather vague language of both ordinances. By way of example, the Cook County ordinance is unclear as to the total number of carryover hours to which a covered employee is entitled, how those hours are to be apportioned, and how the carryover provisions impact employers that decide to frontload earned sick leave hours for covered employees. In section 400.600, the draft regulations attempt to clarify these issues by providing a complicated process for calculating the amount of carryover for covered employees of covered employers subject to the FMLA and the conditions for using that carryover time (see section 400.600). Section 600.300 of the draft regulations states that as an alternative to accrual and carryover, employers subject to the FMLA may comply with the ordinance by frontloading 60 hours of earned sick leave for use as permitted by the ordinance and 40 hours of earned sick leave for use as FMLA leave. As a practical matter, it is still unclear how these regulations are to be administered.

Employers are encouraged to send written comments on the proposed rules to the commission.  Comments are due by May 8, 2017, or when the commission votes to adopt final rules, whichever is later.


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Leaves of Absence/Reasonable Accommodation

Managing leaves and reasonably accommodating employees can be complex, frustrating, and expose employers to legal peril. Employers must navigate a bewildering array of state and federal statutes, with seemingly contradictory mandates.

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