Reminder: Chicago Employers Must Provide 10 Days of Paid Leave to Most Employees Starting July 1, 2024

At a Glance

Chicago employers have just a few weeks — until July 1, 2024 — to comply with the city’s mandate to provide employees with 10 days (80 hours) of paid leave, double what employers previously had to provide. The Chicago Paid Leave and Paid Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance (the “Ordinance”) requires employers to provide up to 40 hours of Paid Leave, which can be taken for any reason, in addition to 40 hours of Paid Sick Leave. The requirements for Paid Sick Leave have changed since the city’s previous ordinance.

Navigating the new leave requirements can be tricky, especially given that the Ordinance has already been amended and some provisions differ from Illinois’ state-wide Paid Leave for All Workers Act. The city has also recently published interpretive rules to accompany the Ordinance.

To untangle the web of requirements, employers should: (i) check out the key requirements listed below, (ii) see Taft’s previous alerts about the Ordinance’s requirements here and about its effective date of July 1, 2024 here, and (iii) work with counsel to update their policies.

Key Requirements for Leave Policies Under Chicago Ordinance

  Chicago “Paid Leave” Chicago “Paid Sick & Safe Leave”
Covered Employees Any employee who works at least 80 hours within any 120-day period in Chicago is covered under the Ordinance.

*includes remote employees who physically work in Chicago, even when the employer is located elsewhere.

Same as Paid Leave
Accrual One hour of leave for every 35 hours worked, up to a max of 40 hours in a 12-month period.

Accrual begins on employee’s first day of employment.

Exempt employees are presumed to work 40 hours each week unless their normal work week is less than 40 hours.

Same as Paid Leave
Front Loading Instead of having employees accrue leave over time, employers can provide employees with 40 hours of Paid Leave within 90 days of the employee’s start day or at the beginning of the benefit year. If employers frontload, they do not have to comply with carryover requirements for Paid Leave (see below). Employers may select to frontload Paid Sick Leave, but doing so does not relieve the employer from complying with the carryover requirements for Paid Sick Leave (see below).
Use Employees can use available Paid Leave after 90 days of employment.

Employees can use Paid Leave for any reason.

Employees can use available Paid Sick Leave after 30 days of employment.

Employees can use Paid Sick Leave for medical or safety reasons for the employee and the employee’s family members, e.g., because of an illness or injury, to receive preventative or medical care, for pandemic-related reasons, or because the employee is a victim of domestic violence or a sex offense.

Carry Over If an employer does not frontload the Paid Leave, employees will be allowed to carry over up to 16 hours of accrued, unused Paid Leave from year to year. Regardless of front-loading, employees can carry over up to 80 hours of available, unused Paid Sick Leave to the next benefit year.
Pay Out Pay out of available, unused Paid Leave at the end of employment will depend on the size of an employer:

  • Small employers (1-50 covered employees) do not have to pay out Paid Leave.
  • Medium employers (51-100 covered employees) must pay employees up to 16 hours of Paid Leave until July 1, 2025, at which point, they must pay out up to 56 hours.
  • Large employers (100+ covered employees) must pay out up to 56 hours of Paid Leave.

*Employers with an unlimited PTO policy are required to pay out up to 40 hours of leave minus the hours of PTO used by the employee in the last 12-month period. If the employee used more than 40 hours of PTO, no pay out is required.

Paid Sick Leave is not required to be paid out at the end of employment, regardless of the size of the employer.
Notice, Pre-Approval, and Denial of Paid Leave Employers may require employees to provide up to seven days’ notice for using Paid Leave.

Employers may also require employees to obtain reasonable pre-approval before using Paid Leave, and may deny the need for leave if the denial is related to operational needs of the business. Denials must be given to employees in writing immediately upon the denial decision.

Employers may require employees to provide up to seven days’ notice for using Paid Sick Leave, when the need for such leave is foreseeable.
Documentation and Certification Employees may use Paid Leave for any reason, and employers may not ask for documentation or certification of the use of Paid Leave. If an employee takes Paid Sick Leave for three consecutive days, the employer may require certification for the use of Paid Sick Leave.

If the employee does not provide the required certification, an employer cannot delay the use of Paid Sick Leave or the payment of accrued Paid Sick Leave wages on the basis that it has not received the certification.

Employer Notice Requirements Employers must notify employees of their rights under the Ordinance, including by:

  1. posting the city-provided notice through the usual methods of communication;
  2. informing employees of the leave policy and their rights under the Ordinance at the start of employment, each year while employed, and before changing a leave policy;
  3. providing with each paycheck a notification listing the amount of Paid Leave and Paid Sick Leave available;
  4. supplying employees at the beginning of the year with the total amount of available leave (this only applies to employers who frontload).
Same as Paid Leave.


 Next Steps for Employers

Employers should partner with counsel to review and update their policies and handbooks to comply with the Ordinance.

Illinois employers outside Chicago should check to see if they need to comply with the Illinois Paid Leave for All Workers Act, which became effective Jan. 1, 2024. For a comparison of the Chicago Ordinance with the Illinois Paid Leave for All Workers Act, view Taft’s article here.

For more information, please contact a member of Taft’s Employment and Labor Relations practice group.

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