Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance Officially in Effect

President's Press Office

Today, President Preckwinkle joined Cook County elected officials, the Cook County Commission on Human Rights, and representatives from the Chicago Federation of Labor, Arise Chicago, and Shriver Center on Poverty Law to share information regarding the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance.

The Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance became effective on December 31, 2023. The Cook County Commission on Human Rights is the enforcement agency for the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance and will begin enforcing the Ordinance on February 1, 2024.

"The Paid Leave Ordinance reflects my administration’s dedication to human rights and public health, ensuring that employees have the freedom to take time off for any reason,” said President Toni Preckwinkle.

The Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance ensures employees in Cook County:

  • Earn at least one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked for your employer in Cook County; and
  • Can use paid leave for any reason of the employee’s choosing.

Employees are covered by the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance if:

  • You work for an employer in Cook County; and/or
  • Your employer has a place of business in Cook County.

Paid leave, in contrast to the previous earned sick leave ordinance, can be used for any reason, providing more flexibility to employees in Cook County to take time off.

Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya said, “[e]nacting paid leave in Cook County represents a significant achievement and protection for our residents. The greatest impact will be felt by low-wage workers and workers not represented by a union. Workers no longer have to choose between a paycheck and their personal well-being or that of their loved ones. I am proud to have championed this legislation to ensure employees are protected and guaranteed paid leave.”

Commissioner Anthony Quezada added that, "[t]he passage of the Cook County paid leave ordinance is a significant victory for working-class people and families, ensuring they no longer have to choose between their health and financial stability. I look forward to continuing our advocacy for policies that address the needs of our communities."

“We are excited to usher in 2024 and expanded benefits for the hard-working people of Cook County. This ordinance raises the floor, guaranteeing all workers can earn paid leave to use to take care of themselves and their families. We applaud the leadership of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Commissioners Alma Anaya and Anthony Quezada and the commitment of the entire Cook County Board of Commissioners to raise the standards for working people,” said CFL President Bob Reiter.

This change aligns with the State of Illinois’ Paid Leave for All Workers Act, which is enforced by the Illinois Department of Labor and became effective on January 1, 2024. The County Ordinance significantly mirrors the State, except in limited circumstances.   

Jennifer King, Esq., Director of the Department of Human Rights and Ethics, shared that, “[u]nlike the Paid Leave for All Workers Act, the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance provides a private right of action, which is consistent with the previous Earned Sick Leave Ordinance.”

Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance (e.g., using paid time off, submitting a request for paid time off, and requiring employees to search for or find a replacement to cover work hours while on leave).

Flor Ramirez, suburban worker and member of Arise Chicago added that, "[I]t is difficult for many people like me who are working mothers and fathers to take time off. It is a big ordeal to ask for a day off out of fear, and threats of losing our jobs. With the new paid time off law we will be able to prioritize our own and our children's health, go to our children's school appointments and important events, and just have time to be with them and play. While these sound like simple dreams, the truth is that for many of us, before this law, there was zero possibility to have paid time off."

Employees who believe their employer is not providing the required hours of paid leave, failing to allow use of paid leave as required by the Ordinance, or is otherwise violating the Ordinance, should contact the Cook County Commission on Human Rights with any questions or to file a complaint. Paid Leave required notices, complaint forms, frequently asked questions and additional information are available on the Commission’s website.

Ordinance No. 24-0583 Paid Leave Ordinance (PLO) was passed by the Cook County Board of Commissioners on December 14, 2023. Enforcement of the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance will begin on February 1, 2024.