Paid Leave Ordinance and Regulations

med-level alert: Cook County passes Paid Leave Ordinance, replaces Earned Sick Leave

12/14/2023 - Cook County Board shifted Earned Sick Leave to Paid Leave. Notices, FAQs, Complaint Forms now available.

low-level alert: Paid Leave Ordinance Enforcement Date - 2/1/2024

Service Information

Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance

As of December 31, 2023, employees in Cook County can earn at least one (1) hour of paid leave for every forty (40) hours worked. This ordinance requires that all employers with employees in Cook County provide those employees with paid leave to be used for any reason.

Paid Leave Ordinance

With the link above you can reach the certified version of the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance (No. 24-0583) passed by the Cook County Board of Commissioners on December 14, 2023. Effective December 31, 2023, this ordinance establishes a right to paid leave for employees of employers in Cook County. 

Paid Leave Jurisdictions Comparison Chart  

If you have questions about where you should file a complaint for violations of paid leave, please refer to the Paid Leave Jurisdictions Comparison Chart linked above. This chart provides an overview of the paid leave ordinances at the City of Chicago, Cook County, and State of Illinois, and is also available in the Downloads section. 

 City of Chicago – Paid Leave and Paid Sick and Safe LeaveCook County – Paid Leave OrdinanceState of Illinois – Paid Leave for All Workers Act (PLAWA)
Effective Date

12/31/23 

*Delayed implementation until 7/1/24

12/31/23 

*Enforcement begins 2/1/24

1/1/24
Where does it apply?Within the City of Chicago.All municipalities within Cook County, except Chicago, unless a municipality has opted into IL Paid Leave for All Workers Act (PLAWA) or has an equivalent ordinance.

Entire State of Illinois. 

Some jurisdictions (i.e. Cook County, City of Chicago) may have their own laws.

Who does it apply to?

"Covered Employees" - means any employee who performs at least 80 hours of work for an Employer in a 120-day period while physically present within the geographic boundaries of the City of Chicago (this includes domestic workers and individuals that travel within the boundaries of the city of Chicago on compensated time). 

*Some exceptions apply.

"Employees” are covered by the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance if: (1) you work for an employer in Cook County; and/or (2) your employer has a place of business in Cook County. This also includes Domestic Workers. 

*Some exceptions apply.

“Employees” - individuals who perform work in Illinois for an employer that does business in Illinois. 

*Some exceptions apply.

For what reasons can leave be used?

Paid Leave – for any reason. 

Paid Sick Leave – for illness, injury, family illness, victim of domestic violence, victim of sex offense or trafficking, business closed for public health emergency, family care, etc.

For any reason.For any reason.
When can employees begin using leave?

Paid Leave – 7/1/24 OR 90 calendar days after starting employment, whichever is later.

Paid Sick Leave – 7/1/24OR 30 calendar days after starting employment, whichever is later. *NOTE: Employers must comply with the City’s current Paid Sick Leave Ordinance until 7/1/24

May begin using Paid Leave on either: (1) 90 days after 12/31/23; OR (2) 90 days after starting employment, whichever is later.May begin using Paid Leave on either: (1) 90 days after 1/1/24; OR (2) 90 days after starting employment, whichever is later.
Accrual Rate

Paid Leave AND Paid Sick Leave – Minimum 1 hour for every 35 hours worked; Maximum of 40 hours for each/12-month period (unless employer sets higher limit). 

*NOTE: Employers may frontload leave at the beginning of the year rather than use accrual

1 hour of Paid Leave for every 40 hours worked.

 *NOTE: Employers may frontload leave at the beginning of the year rather than use accrual.

1 hour of Paid Leave for every 40 hours worked. 

*NOTE: Employers may frontload leave at the beginning of the year rather than use accrual.

Individual Right of Action Option?Yes. Effective 12/31/23 for Paid Sick Leave, and 7/1/25 for Paid Leave (6-130-100).Yes.No.
Cure period?Yes, temporary; Cure period is available from July 1, 2025, to June 30, 2026, then sunsets.No.NA.
Carryover of unused time allowed?

Paid Leave – Yes, may carry over up to 16 hours of unused Paid Leave (except where front-loaded/provided on a pro rata basis). 

Paid Sick Leave – Yes, may carry over up to 80 hours of unused Paid Sick Leave.

Yes. Any unused Paid leave can be carried over (except where front-loaded/provided on a pro rata basis). 

*NOTE: Employers are not required to allow use of more than 40 hours of Paid Leave in a 12-month period.

Yes. Any unused Paid Leave can be carried over (except where front-loaded/provided on a pro rata basis). 

Employers are not required to allow use of more than 40 hours of Paid Leave in a 12- month period. See Proposed Paid Leave Rules IL Register Issue 44 (illinois.gov)

Payout of unused leave required upon termination or separation from employment?

Large employers (101+ employees) – Yes. Payout of FULL amount of unused leave required. *NOTE: never more than 7 days (5 accrued days plus 2 carryover days). 

Medium-sized employers (between 51 and 100 covered employees) Yes. However, must payout a maximum of 16 hours until 7/1/25, unless employer sets higher limit. *(After 7/1/25, Medium-sized employers must pay out full amount of unused, accrued leave.) *Same NOTE as above. 

Small employers (50 or less covered employees) NOT required to payout unused leave.

Generally, no, UNLESS Paid Leave was already credited to an employee’s paid time off bank or vacation account (front loaded).No, UNLESS Paid Leave was already credited to an employee’s paid time off bank or vacation account (front loaded). *See Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act.
PenaltiesEmployer liable for damages for actual underpayment, compensatory damages and fines ranging from $1,000.00 to $3,000.00 per offense. Each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate and distinct offense.Employer liable to employee for damages for actual underpayment, compensatory damages, and fines ranging from $500 to $1,000.Employer liable to employee for damages for actual underpayment, compensatory damages, fines ranging from $500 to $1,000, equitable relief, which may include attorney’s fees, expert witness fees, other costs
Filing period

Within 3 years of the alleged violation. (2-25- 200(8)(e)) 

If multiple or continuing violations, within 3 years of the date of the last occurrence.

Within 3 years of the alleged violation. 

If multiple or continuing violations, within 3 years of the date of the last occurrence

Within 3 years of the alleged violation.

If multiple or continuing violations, within 3 years of the date of the last occurrence

Rules and Regulations

After engaging in a public rulemaking process, the Commission will adopt interpretative and procedural rules for its enforcement of the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance. Draft rules will be available for public comment in early 2024.

Proposed Amendments to Paid Leave Procedural Rules - As approved by Human Rights Commissioners on 1/18/2024

  • Note: These are not the finalized/confirmed rules. These rules have been approved by the Cook County Commission on Human Rights Commissioners, but will not be finalized until approved by the Cook County Board of Commissioners. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

This is a compilation of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance. The Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance (PLO) No. 24-0583 was passed by the Cook County Board of Commissioners on December 14, 2023.

FAQs should not be considered a substitute for the appropriate official documents (i.e. statute and/or administrative rules). Individuals are urged to consult legal counsel with legal questions. The Commission cannot provide individuals with legal advice. These FAQs are non-binding, not to be considered complete, and do not relieve employers from complying with applicable laws and regulations.

These responses are not binding on the Commission in an enforcement action related to the Ordinance. To the extent that these responses conflict with the Ordinance or the Rules, the Ordinance and the Rules are more authoritative and will prevail. 

    The Paid Leave Ordinance went into effect on December 31, 2023. The Cook County Commission on Human Rights begins enforcement of the Paid Leave Ordinance on February 1, 2024. Complaints based on the Paid Leave Ordinance may be filed with the Cook County Commission on Human Rights beginning February 1, 2024.

    The Paid Leave Ordinance does not distinguish between part-time, full-time, or seasonal employees. Full-time and part-time employees are covered by the Paid Leave Ordinance. However, employees who work fewer hours may accrue less leave time compared to full-time employees.

    If your company has an existing leave policy that provides the minimum amount of leave required by the Paid Leave Ordinance (40 hours) in a 12-month period, or more than the minimum required, and your employees can use that amount of leave for any reason of their choosing, you do not need to modify the terms of your policy.

    Staffing agency employers are required to meet the minimum requirements provided under the Paid Leave Ordinance. Staffing agency employers of day and temporary laborers are not exempted from the Paid Leave Ordinance.

    The Paid Leave Ordinance does not generally require payout of unused paid leave unless the leave is credited to the employee’s paid time off bank or employee vacation account. Employers should additionally consider their vacation payout obligations under the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act. For example, an employer provides 40 hours of sick leave and 40 hours of vacation time. In this example, any unused vacation time must be paid out. Unused sick leave would not be required to be paid out.

    Yes, prior opt out of the Earned Sick Leave Ordinance does not apply to the Paid Leave Ordinance.

    The Paid Leave Ordinance does not prohibit an employer from adopting an evenly applied paid leave policy to allow it to address operational issues and meet safety objectives. Employers of unionized employees can also address these concerns through collective bargaining.

    Employers may adopt policies that establish some parameters for taking leave (e.g. notice requirement, etc.) and limited reasons the employer may deny leave for operational necessity. Any such policy must be communicated to employees, applied equally to all employees, and conform with other applicable state and federal laws.

    Employees shall determine how much paid leave they need to use. However, employers may set a reasonable minimum increment for the use of paid leave not to exceed 2 hours per day. If an employee's scheduled workday is less than 2 hours, the employee's scheduled workday shall be used to determine the amount of paid leave.

    Yes, at the beginning of the year, an employer may front-load paid leave time by (1) making available the minimum number of hours of paid leave for a full year as required under the Paid Leave Ordinance or (2) a proportion of hours.

    Paid leave shall begin to accrue at the start of employment or on December 31, 2023 (the effective date of the Paid Leave Ordinance), whichever is later. Employees shall be entitled to begin using paid leave 90 days after the start of their employment or 90 days after December 31, 2023 (the effective date of the Paid Leave Ordinance), whichever is later.

    Employees who are exempt from the overtime requirements of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (29 U.S.C. 213(a)(1)) shall be deemed to work 40 hours in each workweek for purposes of paid leave time accrual if they regularly work 40 or more hours in a workweek. If such employee’s regular workweek is less than 40 hours, their paid leave time accrues based on the number of hours in their regular workweek.

    The Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance does not require employers to convert accrued sick leave into paid leave. However, an employer may choose to allow employees to carry over some or all unused paid sick leave from this year into 2024.

    No, and employer may not seek compensation from employees for front-loaded time used.

    The Paid Leave Ordinance requires employers to maintain records documenting hours worked, paid leave accrued and taken, and remaining paid leave balance for each employee for a period of not less than 3 years. The Paid Leave Ordinance does not otherwise require employers to use a particular record-keeping method.

    Employees are allowed to carry over or roll over unused, accrued leave from one year to the next under this law. However, there is no obligation for the employer to offer more than 40 hours of paid leave in a year. An employer may offer more than the 40 hours of paid leave if they choose.

    If tipped employees use paid leave, they should be compensated at the rate of Cook County’s current non-tipped minimum wage. Starting on January 1, 2024, that will be $14.00/hour.

    Paid time off is synonymous with paid leave. Paid time off can be used for any reason, or no reason at all, but may not be required to be paid out to an employee upon separation. A difference for “vacation” is that it is subject to pay out pursuant to Section 4 of the Wage Payment and Collection Act.

    FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Employees going on FMLA may use paid leave concurrently during their FMLA leave. More information regarding FMLA is available on this webpage: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fmla.

    An employee covered under the Paid Leave Ordinance is entitled to use paid leave before using unpaid leave under any employer policy or other state law.

    The Cook County Commission on Human Rights will review procedural rules regarding this ordinance in January 2024 and shortly thereafter refer them to the Cook County Board of Commissioners for additional review in February 2024.

    Yes, employers can use smaller, proportional accrual rates as long as the benefit equates to one (1) hour of paid leave for every forty (40) hours worked.

    The City of Chicago has enacted their own ordinance, which includes sick leave and paid leave. The City of Chicago’s Office of Labor Standards, within Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, will enforce this ordinance so more information can be found here: https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/bacp/supp_info/office-of-labor-standards.

    Illinois passed the Illinois Paid Leave for All Workers Act (PLAWA), effective January 1, 2024. Information on this law can be found here: https://labor.illinois.gov/faqs/paidleavefaq.

    The staff of the Commission does not have the authority to give individual legal advice or render advisory opinions to individual employers. However, the staff appreciates these efforts on the part of conscientious employers. In an effort to facilitate broad compliance, the staff of the Commission will provide frequently asked questions in the Downloads section of this page.

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