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Sick Leave Laws Expanding

By: Drew M Smith

Recently, many states and cities have established rules for employees regarding the paid sick leave hours made available to them. In most states, paid sick leave is primarily left up to the individual employer. But not all states have laws that stipulate the requirement to have sick leave.

One of the cities to recently adopt a sick leave standard is the city of Chicago. Their ordinance, which is taking affect July 1st, stipulates that for every 40 hours worked earns 1 hour of sick leave up to a max of 40 hours. Essentially, that is five days per year on a normal eight hour work week. This can be used when you are sick or if your family has a medical issue. Family includes children, parents, grandparents, your significant others and even stepparents.1

However these city & state rules may conflict with other legislation, making compliance confusing, especially if they are rolled out around the same time. Before you consider your sick leave rules, you need to understand which rules would apply to you. Cook County, the county Chicago is in, also passed a similar ordinance regarding sick leave that would kick in the same day as the Chicago ordinance. Additionally, Illinois passed their version of the Family Sick Leave Act which makes eligible employers have an allocation of sick days for their employee’s families if any issue should come up.

The confusion is compounded by the fact that townships can opt out of it, if they so choose. Since the Cook County ruling, four towns have opted out of it. One town, Barrington, is spread across two counties, which means the town would have to follow two different rules. This mass of confusion is prevalent across the country as states, towns and counties pass these rules. In some states, the rule is similar to the minimum wage laws; the one that is the most generous is typically the one followed.2

In general, the state would be the flag bearer on a ruling like this. However, if your town or county have the rules in place and the state does not, then the rules would apply to the more local ordinance. Review all relevant information before issuing your rules on sick leave. Being sick should not deprive anyone out of being paid fairly.



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