Sometimes employers need to be aware of the trends that are occurring in other states as well as their own. The debate over paid sick leave laws is one of those trends that is picking up steam in more and more states. There is no current federal law requiring employers to offer paid sick leave to employees, but eight states and the District of Columbia already have such laws in place. Some cities and counties are even requiring private employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. If you have employees in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont or Washington, D.C. you are already aware of these laws. If you have employees in North Carolina, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, or Pennsylvania you should know that sick pay laws are currently being debated. Some forms of these laws have been passed or debated in 26 states.
Several organizations are offering model legislation for paid sick leave laws. Most propose that employees should be able to earn 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 or 40 hours worked. Most cap the amount of sick leave that can be accrued, usually between 40 to 56 hours. Some states pro-rate the cap based on company size. Many of them look at a threshold of 15 employees before an employer is covered by the law, but not all.
There is no Illinois law covering paid sick leave but Cook County recently passed a Paid Sick Leave law that became effective on July 1, 2017. It can apply to employers with even one eligible employee, that is any employee who has worked at least 80 hours regardless of location for a Covered Employer in any 120-day period. Such employees accrue one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours that he or she works for the Covered Employer within the boundaries of Cook County. Municipalities may exempt themselves and many have. For the complete list see https://pslatwork.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/071417-opt-out-list-3-column-pdf.pdf
With all the activity at the state level it is not surprising that the Federal Government would take notice. The Healthy Families Act was first introduced at the Federal level in 2009 and was reintroduced this past March. The Federal bill defines a covered employer as one that employs 15 or more employees for each working day during each of 20 or more calendar workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year. Employees would accrue 1 hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, to a cap of 56 hours in a calendar year.
This is an issue that will affect many employers over the coming years. If you are designing a policy now, be aware of how the proposed laws are being written. If you do not have a sick pay policy, make sure you are tracking your employees work days in such a way that you can determine whether your company would be covered based on current or pending legislation. To track legislation at the federal level, see www.govtrack.us. For information at the state level see www.sageemployerresources.com. For specific information on Cook County see www.cookcountyil.gov/service/earned-sick-leave-ordinance-0