Cook County passes Paid Leave Ordinance, replaces Earned Sick Leave

Today, the Cook County Board of Commissioners passed significant amendments to the former Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance, shifting to the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance 

Effective December 31, 2023, the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance will ensure 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. 

This represents a significant shift, as the Earned Sick Leave Ordinance previously outlined conditions during which earned sick leave could be used (e.g., when you or a family member are ill, receiving medical care, etc.). Paid leave, by contrast, can be used for any reason, providing more flexibility to employees in Cook County to take time off. This change also aligns with the State of Illinois’ Paid Leave for All Workers Act, which will be enforced by the Illinois Department of Labor starting January 1, 2024.  

"Paid leave is essential for workers throughout Cook County,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “This policy reflects my administration’s dedication to human rights and public health, ensuring that employees have the freedom to take time off for any reason.”  

“We are pleased that Cook County will be raising the floor by guaranteeing all workers can accrue paid leave. This ordinance will ensure that workers can take care of themselves and their families—without putting their jobs in jeopardy or missing a paycheck. We thank Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Commissioner Alma Anaya, Commissioner Anthony Quezada for their leadership and the Cook County Board of Commissioners for voting to raise the standards for all workers," said Chicago Federation of Labor President Robert G. Reiter, Jr.

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

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

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).  

“Enforcing Cook County’s labor ordinances is of utmost importance, as we know that vulnerable workers, such as workers in tipped industries and those with variable schedules, are most likely to be unlawfully prevented from taking time off,” said Jennifer King, Esq., Interim Director of the Department of Human Rights and Ethics.  

“The strength of our labor laws requires diligence by all parties, and we encourage anyone who has experienced a workplace violation to contact the Cook County Commission on Human Rights and consider filing a complaint,” King concluded.  

The Cook County Commission on Human Rights is the enforcement agency for the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance. 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.  

The Paid Leave complaint form and additional information can be accessed 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.  



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