On December 14, 2023, the Cook County Board of Commissions passed an ordinance that replaces the County’s current paid sick leave ordinance, effective December 31, 2023. The provisions of the new Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance (“Ordinance”) generally follow the requirements of the upcoming Illinois Paid Leave for All Workers Act (“PLAWA”), which takes effect January 1, 2024. The interactions of the local ordinance and PLAWA may be confusing, but the bottom line is all Cook County employers, even if their municipality opts out of the Ordinance, will still be covered by PLAWA and the employers who intended to comply only with the current Paid Sick Leave Ordinance in the coming year, the new Ordinance requires substantial changes in a short period of time.  

The main parallel point of the Ordinance and PLAWA is that employees will now be eligible for paid leave that can be used for any purpose. Paid leave accrues at the rate of one hour per 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours accrued in a year. Exempt employees are assumed to work 40 hours per week, unless they normally work less than 40 hours in a workweek, in which case their accrual will be based on that lower number of hours. Employers must allow carryover of unused time from one year to the next. Employers that frontload at least 40 hours of paid leave are relieved of the obligation to carry over unused time from one year to the next. Employers may limit use of paid leave until an employee’s 90th day of employment.  

PLAWA and the Ordinance state that an employer who provides “any type of paid leave policy” that provides at least 40 hours of paid leave in a 12-month period “is not required to modify the policy” so long as that policy allows the employee “to take paid leave for any reason.”  

City of Chicago passed the Chicago Paid Leave and Paid Sick Leave Ordinance, brining similarly sweeping changes to employers with Chicago employees, but the Ordinance will not take effect until July 1, 2024, rather than December 31, 2023.  

Employers must carefully review existing policies against the new law’s requirements and update their policies.