June 22, 2016

City Council Passes Ordinance to Allow Workers to Earn Sick Days to Strengthen Protections for Working Chicagoans

Ordinance based on framework proposed by the Mayoral Working Families Task Force to expand paid sick leave to more than 460,000 Chicago workers
Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

City Council today passed an ordinance by a vote of 48-0 that would allow employees to earn paid sick leave, providing a meaningful benefit to thousands of Chicago families with a limited impact on employer costs. The ordinance was based on the framework created by a working group that included business and labor groups that held discussions for more than a year.

“Under this pro-work and pro-family ordinance, workers can use their earned sick time to seek medical treatment and care, but also can be used by domestic violence victims to access legal and/or judicial proceedings,” said Mayor Emanuel.

This ordinance is more business friendly than sick leave ordinances adopted by other cities and has a nominal cost to employers. A cost model developed by the Civic Consulting Alliance found that this framework will lead to a less than 0.7-1.5 percent increase in labor costs for most employers. Under this ordinance:

  • workers would be able to accrue and use up to five earned sick days over the course of one year; earn sick time at a rate of one hour earned for every 40 hours worked;
  • workers would be able to roll over up to 2.5 days unused sick days to the following year;
  • new employees can use accrued sick leave after an initial six month probationary period, and employers that offer combined leave benefits such as Paid Time Off (PTO) are exempt from these requirements so long as employees could accrue and use up to five days of PTO within a calendar year;
  • employers would not be required pay out of unused sick days; and
  • sick leave benefits that are negotiated as part of a collective bargaining agreement are exempt.

In June 2015, Mayor Emanuel appointed the Working Families Task Force to investigate the issues facing working families in Chicago and instructed the group to develop recommendations to strengthen protections for working Chicagoans. The Working Families Task Force was Co-Chaired by Anne Ladky, Executive Director of Women Employed, and Ameya Pawar, Alderman of the 47th Ward. To ensure that the recommendations considered a wide range of perspectives, the Mayor
appointed a broad range of members representative of many groups, including employee advocacy organizations, business advocates, employers and elected officials. The task force was modeled after Mayor Emanuel’s Minimum Wage Working Group, which resulted in an increase to the minimum wage that will provide more than 400,000 Chicago workers with a raise over the next five years.

“This ordinance is based on the countless hours and many, many individuals who contributed their views on sick leave and other issues to the deliberations of the Task Force," said Anne Ladky, co-chair of the Working Families Task Force. "This latest action by City Council will allow Chicago to continue to be a leader in meeting the needs of both employers and working families.”

"It's a great day in the City of Chicago for working families," said Alderman Toni Foulkes. "This ordinance was the result of a long and productive process; workers can now afford to stay home when they are sick or need to take care of a family member."

While Congress and Springfield have failed to take action on sick leave, over the past several years, more than 20 cities, five states and one county have passed sick leave laws. In the report released earlier this year, the Task Force recommended a framework that would provide more than 460,000 Chicago workers with paid sick leave while having a nominal impact on employer costs.

"I was proud to co-chair the Mayor's Working Families task force which resulted in a progressive yet balanced report which led to this ordinance,” said Alderman Pawar. “The framework contained in the report has led to essential protections for hundreds of thousands of Chicago workers and families and is truly a product of business, labor, advocacy groups, and elected officials coming to address social policy and justice issues."

"I am proud to be a sponsor of this ordinance, which strengthens businesses by encouraging a healthier workforce while also strengthening families, who will gain necessary workplace protections," said Alderman Joe Moreno. "I applaud the Task Force for producing a report that laid a business friendly and progressive path to achieve paid sick leave for Chicago's workers."


Task Force members included:Donna Baggett VP, Human Resources, S&C Electric; Robert Bruno, Professor of Labor and Employment Relations, University of Illinois; Will Burns, Alderman of the 4th Ward; Christine Cikowski, Owner/Chef, Honey Butter Fried Chicken; Jason Ervin, Alderman of the 28th Ward; Toni Foulkes, Alderman of the 16th Ward; Rev. C.J. Hawking, Arise Chicago; Joshua Kulp, Owner/Chef, Honey Butter Fried Chicken; Kimberly Lightford, State Senator of the 4th District; Derek Lindblom, Vice President and Chief of Staff, 7Wire Ventures; Theresa Mintle, President and CEO, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce; Emma Mitts, Alderman of the 37th Ward and Chairman of the Committee on License and Consumer Protection; Joe Moreno, Alderman of the 1st Ward and Chairman of the Committee on Human Relations; Matt O’Shea, Alderman of the 19th Ward, Wendy Pollack Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law; Ariel Reboyras, Alderman of the 30th Ward and Chairman of the Committee on Public Safety; Bob Reiter, Secretary-Treasurer, Chicago Federation of Labor; Mary Ellen Schopp, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Rush University Medical Center; K. Sujata, President and CEO, Chicago Foundation for Women; Jess Terry, HR Director, Roundy’s (Mariano), Latasha Thomas, Former Alderman of the 17th Ward; Sam Toia, President, Illinois Restaurant Association; Tanya Triche, Illinois Retail Merchants Association; Tom Tunney, Alderman of the 44th Ward and Chairman of the Committee on Special Events, Cultural Affairs and Recreation; and Art Turner, State Representative of the 9th District.

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