December 19, 2023Client Alert

Chicago City Council Delays Implementation of New Paid Leave Ordinance Until July 1, 2024

As we previously reported here, on November 9, 2023, the City of Chicago passed its Chicago Paid Leave and Paid Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance (“Ordinance”), which requires employers to provide up to 80 hours of paid time off to eligible employees each year – twice as much as currently required. Under the November version of the Ordinance, employees would have started accruing hours under the new framework on January 1, 2024, thus leaving employers with little time to update their policies and navigate the new law. In response to pressure from the business community, on December 13, 2023, the Chicago City Council voted unanimously to amend the Ordinance (“Amended Ordinance,” which can be found here). Most significantly, the Amended Ordinance delays implementation of the Ordinance’s most significant provisions regarding accrual and use of Paid Sick Leave and Paid Leave by six months; i.e., to July 1, 2024. As a result, through June 30, 2024, employers who have employees working in the City of Chicago must continue to comply with the City’s current Paid Sick Leave Ordinance.

Note that this delay in implementation of Chicago’s Ordinance does not delay the effective date of the Illinois Paid Leave for All Workers Act (“PLAWA”), which impacts eligible employees working outside of Chicago and is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2024. We have previously reported on the PLAWA here and here.  Nor does Chicago’s Amended Ordinance delay the December 31, 2023, effective date of Cook County’s new Paid Leave Ordinance, which was just passed on December 14, 2023. As reported here, the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance eliminates its earned sick leave requirements and replaces them with paid leave provisions similar to those included in the PLAWA.

With respect to Chicago’s Amended Ordinance, in addition to the delayed implementation, the most significant changes include the following:

  • The November version of the Ordinance defined “Covered Employee” as an employee who, in any two-week period, performs at least two hours of work for an employer in Chicago. The Amended Ordinance modifies this language so that “Covered Employee” is defined as an employee who “works at least 80 hours for an Employer within any 120-day period while physically present within the geographic boundaries of the City.” This amended language mirrors the definition of covered employees used in the current Chicago Paid Sick Leave Ordinance. The Amended Ordinance adds, however, that once an employee satisfies the threshold of working 80 hours for an employer within a 120-day period, that employee will remain covered by the Amended Ordinance for the remainder of the time the employee performs work in Chicago for the employee’s employer.
  • The Amended Ordinance similarly extends the dates by which employees may bring a private cause of action against their employer for alleged violations of the Ordinance’s Paid Sick Leave and Paid Leave provisions. For violations of the Ordinance’s Paid Sick Leave provisions, employees may bring a private cause of action against their employer starting July 1, 2024. For violations of the Ordinance’s Paid Leave provisions, employees may not bring a private cause of action against their employer until July 1, 2025. In addition, between July 1, 2025, and July 1, 2026, employees may bring a private cause of action against their employer only after “(A) an alleged violation occurs; and (B) the payday for the next regular payroll period or 16 days after the alleged violation occurred passes, whichever is the shorter period.” This “cure period” of up to 16 days is designed to give employers an opportunity to correct any errors regarding their compliance with the Ordinance’s Paid Leave requirements before an employee files a lawsuit against the employee’s employer.
  • The Amended Ordinance includes additional language regarding an employer’s notice obligations that was not contained in the November version of the Ordinance. For example, the Amended Ordinance provides that employers must provide their written paid time off policy to each covered employee in the employee’s “primary language.”
  • Significantly, the Amended Ordinance also includes the following new language, which appears to extend to all employer policies: “If an employer has employment policies, and if the employer has workers whose regular work duties take place within the geographical boundaries of Chicago, then the employer shall provide those workers with its employment policies. Employers shall provide workers with a 14-day notice of changes to employment policies. An employer shall provide its employment policy to its workers in the primary language of each of its workers.” It is unclear how broadly the City will interpret this new language. However, employers should note that this language apparently goes into effect on December 31, 2023, as this is not one of the sections of the Amended Ordinance where the effective date was delayed.

During the City’s December 14, 2023, webinar titled “Overview of Chicago’s Paid Leave & Paid Sick & Safe Leave Ordinance,” representatives from the City’s Office of Labor Standards advised that the City will issue new proposed rules on December 22, 2023, to reflect the changes in the Amended Ordinance. Public comments regarding those proposed rules will be accepted until February 16, 2024. The Office expects to issue final rules regarding the Ordinance by April 1, 2024.

Although the Amended Ordinance’s six-month delay in implementation of the Ordinance comes as welcome news to many employers, we recommend that employers begin reviewing their existing policies regarding paid sick leave, vacation, and/or paid time off and consult with their employment counsel to ensure compliance with the new deadlines.

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