Chicago Paid Leave Ordinance

Revised Dec. 15, 2023

Proposed new rules for Chicago Paid Leave Ordinance

Chicago dentists will have more time to plan for a Chicago ordinance mandating employees receive five paid sick days and five paid personal days in a 12-month period after the City Council enacted a substitute ordinance that pushes back the effective date to July 1, 2024.

The original ordinance was adopted Nov. 9, replacing current city requirements for sick leave, and provided for a Dec. 31 start, giving employers only weeks to formulate new work strategies. The changes were recommended by committee on Dec. 9. 

Besides delaying its start, the substitute ordinance also amends the work requirements for covered employees to 80 hours worked over a 120-day period, which mirrors the current city paid sick leave ordinance.

With the change in the start date, the substitute ordinance also pushes back the ability for employees to sue employers for non-compliance from Jan. 1, 2025, to July 1, 2025.

The ordinance still requires a study be done by the city commissioner of business affairs and consumer protection on the economic impact on smaller employers and employees’ ability to use the paid leave with a report submitted to a joint committee.

Illinois dental practice owners outside of Chicago will still need to follow a new state law concerning paid leave that goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2024. That law requires employers give workers 40 hours of paid leave per year for any reason. Read the proposed rules.

Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce outlines the laws governing employee paid leave

The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce outlined the Chicago, Cook County and State laws governing employee paid leave.

Nov. 20, 2023

Chicago ordinance grants employees paid time off

By Joseph DeRosier

A Chicago ordinance establishing mandatory paid time off for workers in the city – that one legal specialist called “the most generous paid leave law in the country” – was approved Nov. 9 by the City Council. It goes into effect Dec. 31.

The scope of the ordinance affects dental practice owners and also dental employees, including associate dentists, hygienists, assistants and office staff.

Rules and regulations are still being formulated, but the law entitles “Covered Employees” to up to 40 hours of paid sick leave and 40 hours of paid leave for every 12-month period. It replaces the city’s current Paid Sick Leave Ordinance.

 “Because this ordinance takes effect soon – Dec. 31 – and impacts our member doctors, CDS will work to provide information about the new law as quickly as possible,” said CDS President Dr. Michael Durbin. “We will continue to follow this issue and pass along updates as we receive them.”

Attorney Brette Bensinger of Hinshaw Culbertson LLP in Chicago, who specializes in employment law, indicated the ordinance outlines that an employer is considered anyone who “gainfully” employs at least one employee.

“It’s safe to say that if you have a dental practice in Chicago, then you will have to comply,” she said. “It is extremely complicated. This is the most generous paid leave law in the country, and it may be the most complicated.”

The city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection will establish administrative rules and enforcement mechanisms, but a timeline has not yet been set, Bensinger said.

After the state in March modified its paid leave rules, to go into effect Jan. 1, Bensinger said Chicago was expected to change its Sick Leave ordinance to also allow employees to take the time off for any reason, she said.

But the city decided to expand its reach, keeping its 40-hour Sick Leave rule and adding another 40 hours of Paid Leave for any reason, she said.

One change centers on who is considered a “Covered Employee.” She said the new definition covers anyone who has worked at least two hours for an employer in a two-week period, while physically present in the city. Also, the accrual rate has changed, from one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours to a new accrual rate of one hour of Paid Sick Leave and an additional one hour of Paid Leave for every 35 hours worked. According to the ordinance, accrual is also now made in hourly increments, not by a fraction of an hour.

Employers can cap the leave amount to 40 hours of each type of leave, for a total of 80 hours, during a 12-month period, she said.

In a compromise, Bensinger said employers with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from paying unused leave after the 12-month accrual period. Employees would be allowed to carry over 16 hours of paid leave and up to 80 hours of sick leave into the next 12-month span; but employers would not need to pay for any leave not used.

Employers can also set limits and expectations for taking Paid Leave, she said. For instance, employers can set policies that Paid Leave requests must be made seven days in advance and could deny the request if business operations would be disrupted, she said.

As for Sick Leave, employers could require a health care provider’s note if the employee is absent for three consecutive days, she said.

Brad Tietz, vice president of government relations and strategy for the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, said many in the Chicago business community opposed the ordinance as expensive and complicated. The City Council allowed Chicago businesses “less than two weeks to implement this never-before-tried in the country model of paid leave,” he added.

Tietz noted that if CDS members who have a Chicago practice and already have a leave policy that exceeds the city requirements would not be impacted.

The ordinance passed by a vote of 36-12. It was supported by Business Leadership Council and Chicago Urban League, citing benefits to workers and their families, but opposed by the Chicagoland Chamber, the Illinois Health and Hospitals Association and the Illinois Restaurant Association among others, who argued the economic impact would hurt smaller businesses and those with worker shortages.