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New Paid Leave Requirements for Chicago Employees Starting July 1 – What to Know and How to Prepare

Date

April 10, 2024

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5 minutes

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Effective July 1, 2024, employers will need to comply with new paid leave requirements that apply to all Chicago employees (including those who work from home from Chicago). The Chicago City Council passed the Paid Leave and Paid Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance (“Paid Leave Ordinance”) on November 9, 2023. Although the ordinance’s new requirements originally were slated to go into effect on January 1, 2024, an amending ordinance delayed the effective date for most obligations to July 1, 2024.

What changes take effect on July 1, 2024?

The Paid Leave Ordinance implements two separate requirements: (1) that employees earn up to 40 hours of paid leave for any purpose (“PTO”), and (2) that employees earn up to 40 hours of paid sick leave (“Paid Sick Leave”) per 12-month period. Under the ordinance, employees will accrue both PTO and Paid Sick Leave at a rate of at least one hour for every 35 hours worked. The Paid Leave Ordinance also requires that employers allow employees to carry over up to 16 hours of PTO and up to 80 hours of Paid Sick Leave each year, though employers may avoid the requirement to carry over PTO by “frontloading” the 40 hours of PTO each year (as described below).

Who is covered by the new rule?

The Paid Leave Ordinance applies to any employer with at least one employee, and to any employee who works at least 80 hours in Chicago during a 120-day period. Once an employee meets that threshold, they are deemed a “covered employee” for the duration of their employment with that employer.

Employers subject to a collective bargaining agreement with more generous paid time off should continue to comply with the collective bargaining agreement’s provisions.

What are the notice requirements?

Chicago employers must (1) post a notice of the new requirements, (2) adopt a written policy explaining PTO and Paid Sick Leave rights and responsibilities and share the policy with employees when they are hired, and (3) provide employees with PTO and Paid Sick Leave accrual and use information each pay period. Additionally, employers must provide a copy of their employment policies to workers with regular work duties in Chicago in the worker’s primary language. Finally, employers must give employees five calendar days’ notice of any changes to the PTO or Sick Leave policies and 14 days’ notice of any changes to other employment policies. Any required notices can be provided electronically with covered employees’ paychecks.

What are the requirements for employers with unlimited PTO policies?

If a Chicago employer has “unlimited” or “flexible” paid time off, the Paid Leave Ordinance requires that, at termination, they pay out 40 hours of PTO less any PTO the employee has used over the course of the previous 12 months. Employers with unlimited or flexible paid leave policies should make sure to track the use of paid time off by employees accurately to avoid paying out the full 40 hours. Employers who use an unlimited PTO policy should still give their employees notice of the law’s requirements and indicate “unlimited” on covered employees’ PTO statements.

How does the Paid Leave Ordinance impact employers with accrual-based PTO systems?

If an employer uses an accrual system, its employees must accrue both PTO and Paid Sick Leave at a rate of at least one hour for each 35 hours worked. Employers may cap accruals and use at 40 hours for each kind of leave in a 12-month period. Employers with an accrual system must allow employees to carry over up to 16 hours of PTO and up to 80 hours of Paid Sick Leave each year. Employers that use an accrual system must adopt a policy that explains the accrual rate.

What about employers with frontloading PTO systems?

Employers that frontload PTO and Paid Sick Leave must provide at least 40 hours of PTO and 40 hours of Paid Sick Leave at the beginning of each 12-month period. While employers who frontload don’t need to allow carryover of PTO into the new year, they still must carry over up to 80 hours of unused Paid Sick Leave (even though employees don’t have a right to use more than 40 hours in a year). Employers that frontload PTO and Paid Sick Leave should be aware that employees who quit early in the year will still be entitled to a payout for the full year’s allotment of PTO (or, if it is consolidated into a single bank, of the full bank).

How does the Paid Leave Ordinance impact employers outside Chicago?

The ordinance applies to Chicago employers and to employees of non-Chicago employers who physically work in Chicago for at least 80 hours in a 120-day period, including those working remotely.

Illinois employers outside of Chicago must comply with the Illinois Paid Leave for All Workers Act, which took effect on January 1, 2024. The Illinois Paid Leave for All Workers Act does not apply in Chicago or any other jurisdiction with an existing paid time off requirement. 

What should employers do to get ready for the new requirements?

Employers should:

  • Determine whether they will frontload or accrue for PTO and Paid Sick Leave.
  • Review existing policies to confirm compliance with the new ordinance and clearly explain how PTO and Paid Sick Leave will be handled.
  • Ensure payroll systems track and document time off availability and usage properly.
  • Confirm how notice will be provided each pay period.
  • Determine whether any employees who aren’t otherwise viewed as “Chicago employees” are physically present in the City of Chicago for work at least 80 hours in a 120-day period. If so, make sure they’re provided with the required PTO and Paid Sick Leave.
  • Update template separation letters to reflect new payment upon termination requirements.
  • Ensure your human resources team knows when and how PTO and Paid Sick Leave needs to be paid out.

LP’s Employment & Executive Compensation Group will host a webinar on the Chicago Paid Leave Ordinance on Thursday, May 2, 2024, from 11:00 am – 12:00 pm CDT. To register, click here.


Filed under: Employment & Executive Compensation

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