If Pain, Yes Gain—Part XXXII: Cook County Releases Final Sick Leave Rules And Model Notice

Seyfarth Synopsis: The Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance is one of several paid sick leave laws going into effect on July 1, 2017. In advance of the effective date, Cook County recently published its final paid sick leave rules and model notice.

On May 25, 2017, Cook County released a copy of its approved paid sick leave "Interpretative and Procedural Rules" (the "Final Rules"). The Final Rules were issued after the conclusion of a public comment period on the County's draft sick leave rules. Employers should assess and take the Final Rules into account as they prepare for the County's Earned Sick Leave Ordinance's ("ESLO") July 1, 2017 effective date.

On July 1, Cook County will join Chicago as the only municipalities in the state of Illinois with paid sick leave ordinances that are in effect. Chicago has released its own draft paid sick leave rules, which are open for public comment until June 16, 2017. Consequently, Chicago employers will be waiting until at least June 16 for the City's final paid sick leave rules. We, of course, will keep you posted on any developments.

Cook County also recently published a model notice that employers can use to satisfy the ESLO's posting and notice requirements. As described in more detail below, the ESLO requires employers to provide employees with individualized notice of certain sick leave rights at various times, including upon commencement of employment, and post the model notice in a conspicuous place at their Cook County business facilities.

Here are some of the main requirements of the ESLO's Final Rules:

Benefit Year: Unlike the County's draft sick leave rules, the Final Rules opted to remove a definition of "benefit year" that expressly allowed employers to set their sick leave benefit year as a calendar or fiscal year. The Final Rules do maintain a definition of the term "accrual period," although it is directly tied to the 12-month period in which an employee accrues paid sick leave and is based on an employee's date of initial accrual.[1] Recognizing that certain employers will not want (or be able to follow) such a rigid accrual period, the Final Rules added a section discussing how employers can transition employees from the above standard "accrual period" to one that is based on calendar year, fiscal year, anniversary date, etc. The procedure focuses on ensuring that the employees' sick leave benefits are not worse off than they were prior to the transition. Covered Employees: The Final Rules state that an individual will be covered under the ESLO if he or she meets certain criteria, including, but not limited to, working for a covered employer for at least two hours in any two week period while physically present in the geographic boundaries of Cook County. Importantly, and as was noted in the County's draft sick leave rules, the Final Rules confirm that the County "will not consider work that an individual performs within the geographic boundaries of a municipality that has lawfully preempted the Ordinance" when determining employee coverage. (emphasis added).[2] Covered Employers: According to the Final...

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